Lots of people on my side of the fence loathe big pharmaceutical companies — and, don’t get me wrong, Big Pharma has committed more than its share of mortal sins. But deep-pocketed drug manufacturers are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to research, mainly because the citizenry of this holy land has decided scientific inquiry and higher education…, hell, all education, aren’t worth spending too many of our tax dollars on.
A number of my pals who are working diligently at Indiana University trying to tease out medicinal benefits from the cannabis plant have to beg like paupers for grants to continue their delving. It seems these scientists are always thisclose to having to shut down their labs because they just may run out of scratch.
Huntington’s disease, a fatal neurodegenerative condition that strikes in the prime of life, is caused by a single gene defect. The mutant gene was identified in 1993 but hope for a cure was far from assured as subsequent research revealed an amazingly complex role for this gene in brain function. Now, a positive phase I clinical trial and a $45 million bet from Roche suggests a reason for optimism.
See that? F. Hoffman-La Roche AG, a member of the Big Pharma gang if their ever was one, is risking 45-large on experiments and tests for a possible avenue to a possible drug that may — only may — offer some hope to Huntington’s sufferers. I don’t see many other big corporations playing 21 with that kind of dough on research.
I’ll be at Bear’s Friday eve. at 6:30. See you there.
You think things are weird today?
Lemme tell you a story. The Loved One and I took the hounds down to Lake Monroe yesterday evening. It was getting near dark when we pulled into the parking lot on the peninsula at Paynetown SRA. A woman was standing on the point peering at something through binoculars.
As I got out of my hot rod, I noticed a bunch of birds hanging out at the shoreline. “Hey, honey,” I called out as she was dancing off with Sally the Dog, “the place is full of killdeers.”
TLO was unable to check them out w/ me because Sally was yanking her toward some irresistible scent. But the woman sauntered over and scoped the birds. “No,” she announced after a few moments, “they aren’t killdeer. They have long beaks, about one and a half times the size of their heads that turn up. They’re some other species. It’s getting too dark for me to be sure about them. They have those beaks because they flip through the sand and gravel on the shore — they’re a type of shorebird — looking for grubs and shells and worms.”
She went on like this for some minutes, talking about rings around their necks, and their light-colored underbellies. By and by, she announced proudly that the day before she’d spotted a loon. “They don’t live around her,” she explained. “It was passing through on its migration south.”
Clearly, the woman loved and knew birds. She loved even more expounding on them. It was a neat little encounter.
It hit me as we drove away that back when I was a little kid, in the mid-1960s, that kind of woman — she was wearing a baseball cap and cargo pants and had her trusty binocs strung around her neck — would have been an object of ridicule on sitcoms. If you’re of my generation, surely you remember laugh tracks going wild at the sight of Miss Jane of The Beverly Hillbillies and her gang of weirdo birdwatchers, togged similarly. Funny elderly ladies in sneakers looking at birds was a stale trope by the time I was ten.
The message? You never wanted to grow old and be a birdwatcher. You never even wanted to know anybody like that. The were ridiculous, clowns even.
Things maybe be weird around this world today but, hell, 50 years ago things were just as weird or even weirder.