Aducanumab: The Controversial Therapy for Alzheimer‘s Disease

In June of 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted landmark approval to aducanumab – a biopharmaceutical developed by Biogen, targeted to treat  Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is the most common form of dementia, hallmarked by progressive cognitive decline and memory loss. 

Historically, AD therapies have focused on alleviating the symptoms rather than targeting the root cause of the disease. Aducanumab, however, is the first approved drug that could tackle one of the putative pathogenetic pathways of AD: the formation of amyloid-β plaques in the brain. Nevertheless, is this truly the root cause of AD? And was the aducanumab trial data robust enough to warrant FDA approval? Questions such as these fuel the controversy within the scientific community.

EUNS 8th International Conference 2021

The Edinburgh University Neurological Society (EUNS) held their 8th annual international conference on 10-11 April 2021. The speakers at this conference share and showcase the latest developments in neuroscience, neurology, and neurosurgery. This year, the focus was on the blood-brain barrier (BBB), including the current understanding of its functions, neuropharmacological implications and recent technological advances surrounding BBB research.

New antibiotics with a dual strategy against multidrug-resistant bacteria

During bacterial infection, innate immune cells ingest the bacterial cell, digest it and present pieces of the bacterium on their surface. This triggers adaptive immune cells, including T cells, to kill any remaining bacteria. To speed up this process and to prevent the immune system from getting overwhelmed, antibiotics are commonly used to directly suppress or kill invading bacteria.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and nicotine addiction

Nicotine is an addictive chemical compound and the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco. It acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain. Neurones of this pathway release dopamine, which helps establish nicotine addiction over time. Nicotine also activates the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway, which suppresses the centres responsible for withdrawal symptom development. Different types of nAChRs, which vary in their sensitivity to nicotine and ability to desensitise, are present in these pathways. This allows nAChRs to adapt to prolonged nicotine exposure in a way that discourages quitting. Various pharmaceutical, biotechnological and legislative efforts are being made to overcome the addiction associated adaptations in the brain.