How a Dogmatic Group Can Hold Up Scientific Progress

During June, the medical science magazine Stat published a fascinating article demonstrating how a group of researchers who ardently believed in the amyloid hypothesis, that was the dominant conclusion at the time, held up and even manipulated medical research for treating Alzheimer’s for years. The same can be said for climate change since the Left has dominated climate science for so many years.

The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades

By Sharon Begley, June 25, 2019, Stat

In the 30 years that biomedical researchers have worked determinedly to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, their counterparts have developed drugs that helped cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by more than half, and cancer drugs able to eliminate tumors that had been incurable. But for Alzheimer’s, not only is there no cure, there is not even a disease-slowing treatment.

The brain, Alzheimer’s researchers patiently explain, is hard — harder than the heart, harder even than cancer. While that may be true, it is increasingly apparent that there is another, more disturbing reason for the tragic lack of progress: The most influential researchers have long believed so dogmatically in one theory of Alzheimer’s that they systematically thwarted alternative approaches. Several scientists described those who controlled the Alzheimer’s agenda as “a cabal.”

In more than two dozen interviews, scientists whose ideas fell outside the dogma recounted how, for decades, believers in the dominant hypothesis suppressed research on alternative ideas: They influenced what studies got published in top journals, which scientists got funded, who got tenure, and who got speaking slots at reputation-buffing scientific conferences.

This stifling of competing ideas, say a growing number of scholars, is a big reason why there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s. (The four approved drugs have no effect on the disease, providing only a temporary memory boost.)

The scientists described the frustrating, even career-ending, obstacles that they confronted in pursuing their research. A top journal told one that it would not publish her paper because others hadn’t. Another got whispered advice to at least pretend that the research for which she was seeking funding was related to the leading idea — that a protein fragment called beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain, creating neuron-killing clumps that are both the cause of Alzheimer’s and the key to treating it. Others could not get speaking slots at important meetings, a key showcase for research results. Several who tried to start companies to develop Alzheimer’s cures were told again and again by venture capital firms and major biopharma companies that they would back only an amyloid approach.

“The amyloid hypothesis has been one of the most tragic stories [in] disease research,” said neurobiologist Rachael Neve of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Despite being described as a “cabal,” the amyloid camp was neither organized nor nefarious. Those who championed the amyloid hypothesis truly believed it, and thought that focusing money and attention on it rather than competing ideas was the surest way to an effective drug.


One thought on “How a Dogmatic Group Can Hold Up Scientific Progress

Comments are closed.