(NaturalNews) A popular skin cancer drug that researchers last year claimed might aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease has been exposed as a complete and total hoax. As reported by ChicagoTribune.com, bexarotene does not appear to pass the authenticity test after all, as recent follow-up studies to the original were unable to reproduce its findings, which were widely used to claim that the drug might be the next "miracle" treatment in the fight against dementia.
Last year, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science was hailed as having potentially identified the missing link in effective Alzheimer's treatment. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, claimed that bexarotene demonstrably cut the amount of beta amyloid protein in the brains of test mice by half in just three days. Their findings also claimed that the drug helped restore these same mice's sense of smell, which had been lost due to Alzheimer's disease.
Based on the findings of this one particular study, the mainstream media apparently went crazy with the idea that bexarotene is capable of treating and even reversing Alzheimer's disease and its corresponding symptoms. And dementia patients everywhere immediately began demanding the drug, which of course led many doctors to begin prescribing it, even though it had never been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
But new research intended to reinforce the findings of the original study was unable to replicate them, according to new reports. And since replication is considered to be the "gold standard" of legitimate scientific research, the original findings are essentially bunk as far as evidence-based science is concerned.
"It was hot stuff," says Sangram Sisodia, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Chicago who led the new review with some of his colleagues in the field, about bexarotene. "It was the new miracle drug for Alzheimer's ... (But) there is absolutely no reduction in amyloid levels in the brains of mice treated with this compound."
Original study team still claims bexarotene is beneficial, even though findings cannot be reproduced
In response to the new review debunking the original findings, original study author Gary Landreth from Western Case Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, told reporters that his team never claimed beta amyloid plaques were important in the study's findings. Instead, he says, his tests confirmed that bexarotene reduces the overall amount of soluble form beta amyloid that floats in the interstitial fluid around the brain.
"We concluded that plaques didn't matter and said so explicitly," he told ChicagoTribune.com. "As we look at the comments we just don't get it," he added, notably unable to give an adequate explanation as to why the overall findings of his original study could not be properly regulated.
At the same time, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh also conducted their own study which found that bexarotene may help improve cognitive function in mice with gene mutations that resemble Alzheimer's disease in humans. This same study, however, also failed to replicate any reduction in beta amyloid plaques, which further reinforces the notion that bexarotene is a fraud.
"We wanted to repeat the study to see if we could build on it, and we couldn't," says David Borchelt, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Florida who helped with the original study follow-up. "Maybe there should be some caution going forward in regard to patients," he added, as quoted by News.com.au.