Also: measles is a wrecking ball, wiping out the immune system’s memory, and  can CRISPR-based cancer therapies look promising.

China Approves Alzheimer’s Treatment that Targets the Microbiome

(Kerry Grens, The Scientist, 11/5/19)

For the first time in 17 years, a new Alzheimer’s treatment has entered the market. China has conditionally approved oligomannate, which is derived from seaweed, and which acts on the patient’s microbiome to affect the production of amino acids that can cause neuroinflammation. The drug has not demonstrated any effect against the standard Alzheimer’s biomarkers, but did boost cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s compared with patients on a placebo. The drug will continue to be studied as it enters the market.

Here’s how measles wipes out the immune system’s memory

(Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 11/6/19)

Two recent studies suggest that measles erases the gains made by children’s immune systems by their usual exposure to germs. The virus apparently attacks and destroys the antibodies created from exposure to other germs, leaving patients open to attack from previously defensible diseases. The researchers involved stressed the importance of vaccination not only to protect against measles, but also to prevent this “memory wipe” of the immune system.

CRISPR Approach To Fighting Cancer Called ‘Promising’ In 1st Safety Test

(Rob Stein, NPR, 11/6/19)

Researchers recently released the results of safety testing of CRISPR modified cells in cancer patients, citing encouraging results in the very preliminary data. CRISPR-based cancer therapies are a promising research area, though no actual drugs have hit the market yet. The recent results could someday lead to treatments that harness the patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer.

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker