Monday, July 24, 2006

Using the futures market to predict the efficacy of clinical claims to cure Alzheimer's

The BBC today headlined a claim that  Daily pill to 'cure Alzheimer's'. In mice, of course.

Now there is some justification for the interest in PBT2. It's similar to a medication that's been approved in humans, and they've done some preliminary testing for toxicity in humans. On the other hand, we can cure tons of stuff in mice, and we don't really know the relationship between amyloid and dementia.

In some amounts amyloid seems to help protect the brain from injury, so if you reduce the amyloid you might be enabling another injurious process. (Of course we know of many human disorders where the body overreacts to injury, such that the response is 'worse than the disease'. Amyloid deposition could fall into that category.)

There are a zillion reasons this might not go anywhere. On the other hand, the economic impact of slowing dementia onset is enormous. Many more people would work into their 60s and 70s. (A large number of Americans stop work in their 50s, and numbers are even higher elsewhere.) The social security problems would diminish greatly as would medicare costs (dementia is a slow and costly killer).

So one way to judge how real this is would be to look for movement in the 30 year bond rates and related markets … If one really thought this would work, there would be some interesting speculative opportunities …

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