Rapamycin (AKA Sirolimus, Rapamune) is a byproduct of Streptomyces hygroscopicus bacteria which was discovered in Easter Island dirt. Two studies published this week found that mice with Alzheimer’s showed improvements in memory and cognition when given the drug, which brings up a couple questions. How do you know when a mouse has Alzheimer’s? Does it tell you how much it hates its roommate then pause for half a minute before repeating the same complaint word-for-word? Because that’s what my grandma does. On the upside, I get two Christmas presents. On the downside, they’re both a purse. True story.
Rapamycin has already been approved by the FDA to treat organ rejection in transplant patients. That means doctors could start prescribing it for the “off label” use of treating Alzheimer’s tomorrow. [io9]
Hang on, doctors aren’t that quick to write off label prescriptions on something that suppresses the immune system, not with all the liabilities regarding side effects. For example, side effects of this Easter Island sourced drug include violent rage toward every tree in your yard, causing one to cut them all down and erect giant, trippy statues with elongated heads. It is believed these statues represent Moai, the Rapa Nui avatar of Tree Hating. True story.
[Banner pic by Max Cannon]