It's tough to lose a hero or influence, particularly one that seemingly didn't want the limelight that much. He seemed to be the quintessential rock soldier to me, regardless of how I felt about the band's music, he was the invincible riffer.
For a variety of reasons, stem cell therapy is an unlikely choice for treating dementia.
Although it's been 35 years since attending that talk, an epidemiologist gave a presentation at a neuroscience conference I attended back then, on life expectancy following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease at various ages. At that time (and there is no a priori reason to suspect that the numbers will have changed very much), time from diagnosis to death increased as one got older, reaching a peak of about another 7 years of life if diagnosed at age 75, and then declining thereafter. In other words, the younger one is when diagnosed, the faster the disease tends to progress, on average. In part, it was the differential progression of the disease in younger and older adults that nudged some health professionals into thinking that the dementia seen in pre-retirees, and noticeably older persons, were actually two different diseases. As histological techniques improved, and pathologists got a better look at the brains of younger and older victims, they realized it was the same disease, just progressing at different rates.
However, the differential progression of the disease in younger and older persons also led some researchers to think that there was an auto-immune aspect to it. Insomuch as immune function declines with age, if the disease involved one's immune system attacking one's own brain, then a stronger immune system in a younger person would attack that brain more ferociously. To the best of my knowledge, that view has largely fallen out of favour.
All of that has to be qualified by noting that a 100% positive diagnosis is often difficult to make, unless one gets to take brain samples, post-mortem. As time goes on, the behavioural and other symptoms which clearly distinguish Alzeheimer's disease from other forms of dementia have accumulated, and more confident diagnoses can be made without having to take brain slices following death.
While not my favorite band, I appreciate what he and they did for and to the rock world. But I'm sure he lived a fun and eventful life. We shouldn't feel too sorry for people who lived their dream so completely. Fair dinkum.
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