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World Briefs II

Alzheimer's Original Case Reexamined by German Scientists

The Washington Post

When it came to identifying cases of Alzheimer's disease, Alois Alzheimer was right on the money from the start.

In the current issue of the journal Neurogenetics, a team of German scientists announce that they have found and analyzed the microscope slides of brain tissue from a 51-year-old woman who died in 1906 after four years of increasingly severe memory loss, paranoia and agitation. She was Alzheimer's first case of the disease that would eventually bear his name.

The slides reveal neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques, the characteristic changes seen in brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

This is not a huge surprise, as Alzheimer described his findings in detail in a 1907 paper. However, some historians speculated this first patient might have had multiple small strokes or other conditions that can mimic Alzheimer's disease.

The slides were well enough preserved that M.B. Graeber, of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, and his colleagues were able to test a sample of the tissue for ApoE4, a gene that increases more than four-fold a person's risk for the disease. The patient, identified as "Auguste D.," didn't have that, either. The scientists hope to perform more molecular archaeology on the specimens, looking for other gene defects associated with Alzheimer's disease.

McCain Unveils Tough Tobacco Bill

The los angeles times
WASHINGTON

A visibly exhausted Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) unveiled a stringent tobacco bill Monday that would take a long step toward proving that Republicans can be tough on tobacco. The measure would give the tobacco industry almost none of the protections it has sought from lawsuits, and it would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.10 over the next five years, an amount that industry negotiators say they have no choice but to oppose.

A last-minute decision to remove most of the bill's legal protections for tobacco companies makes it likely that McCain will be able to get some Democrats as well as Republicans on his committee to vote for the legislation.

But the bill, denounced by the industry as "fundamentally flawed"and financially "ruinous," faces an uncertain future on the Senate floor. Democrats have already pledged to strengthen its regulatory and tax provisions, which in turn could weaken support for the bill among many Republicans.

In the House, no bipartisan measure has yet emerged and there is division within Republican ranks about what approach to take. McCain was personally involved in the nearly round the clock negotiations on a proposed bill during the last two weeks. "My job was to craft this in a bipartisan fashion I can't and won't be subject to a veto by the tobacco industry," he said in discussing the measure.

He said he had reached the decision to jettison the liability protections for the industry after consulting with committee Democrats. However, committee Democrats, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said that while they applauded McCain's efforts, they would seek to make changes when the panel officially takes up the bill Wednesday.