Alzheimer’s And LATE Disease – What Is A Disease And What A Collection Of Symptoms?


New research tells us that hundreds of thousands we describe as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are in fact possessors of something rather different, LATE. This being an important distinction if only we’re mentally sharp enough to remember it. It’s also something not unusual – in fact it’s the way medicine has been working ever since we passed the Ju-Ju Man stage of that science. For we do continually find that what we’ve been thinking of as a disease is in fact merely – or importantly perhaps – a collection of symptoms. And that there can be and often are more than one disease which produces that same set of symptoms.

To take two of the old killers, the shits and fever. We can see the bloody flux and all that, the shakes and shivers. But we would now distinguish between diarrhea, dysentery, cholera – to give just a few – for the first, perhaps influenza, yellow fever and malaria for the second. Even then we might still just be describing symptoms – diarrhea say – rather than the underlying cause.

And, of course, it should be the cause determined for that is what will enable us to treat the cause of the symptoms and thus save the life.

So with Alzheimer’s:

Hundreds of thousands of older people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are probably suffering from a different disease, which is why drugs trials keep failing, scientists have concluded. In new findings hailed as the ‘most important research to be published in dementia in the past five years’, experts said that around one third of people over 85 are probably suffering from Late disease even though many show signs of Alzheimer’s.

Or, in more detail:

A Newly Recognized Brain Disorder Can Mimic Alzheimer’s. Here’s How It’s Different.

Well, no, it’s not mimicking, it’s that we’ve been describing the symptoms – wondering who the latest popular beat combo is – with the several diseases which cause said symptom – being a judge.

“We proposed a new name to increase recognition and research for this common cause of dementia, the symptoms of which mimic Alzheimer’s dementia but is not caused by plaques and tangles (the buildup of beta amyloid proteins that Alzheimer’s produces). Rather, LATE dementia is caused by deposits of a protein called TDP-43 in the brain,” said Dr. Julie Schneider, senior author of the Brain paper and associate director of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

This particular finding is, of course, new. But the basic process isn’t at all. We started out with all disease is caused by bad spirits and moved onto then distinguishing between different types of bad spirits. Was it, perhaps, the wife or the mistress casting the spell in order to determine which should be put to death in order to cure? It’s that very distinguishing between varied possible causes which is the central point of medical discovery. Nice that we’ve made another step forward but there’s nothing new to the process…

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston

SO what’s the L A T E stand for?