A progressive, incurable disease of aging, Alzheimer’s is plaguing the U.S. Currently, 5 million Americans are diagnosed with the disease. Estimates for medical care expenditures for Alzheimer’s this year are $200 billion.
The numbers of those with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s grows daily, actually every 68 seconds. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles in every five-year interval after the age of 65.
With the U.S. population aging overall, we are looking at a problem that will only get greater left unchecked.
The U.S. President, in his National Plan for Alzheimer’s, has recently put his support behind research to deal with this life altering disease, setting desired treatment and prevention strategies as the goal to be achieved by 2025. What that means for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease remains to be seen, but we are seeing a renewed surge of research and advocacy to fight Alzheimer’s. If you are an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you are thrilled but know the end feels like it is a long way off – - maybe too late for those under your care.
We wanted to touch on a few new areas of study in Alzheimer’s so that we can all understand the importance of our continued advocacy and fundraising to make these ideas reality!
New Bid to Prevent Alzheimer’s Early
The first study, currently underway, is to test an experimental treatment on individuals who do not show signs of any memory loss but are in the extended family of someone with Alzheimer’s.
An injectable drug made by Genentech in collaboration with government and academic researchers will be tested on 300 people who have been found to have a genetic mutation linked to cognitive impairment symptoms by the age of 45.
This drug targets amyloid protein in the brain thought to lead to Alzheimer’s when the protein clumps. One additional focus of the research will be to see if testing amyloid levels in people can indicate whether treatments are working without waiting for memory loss to appear or worsen.
Insulin Nasal Spray
A National Institute of Health study using a $7.9 million grant will test the effectiveness of insulin nasal spray for people who are already in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
A government funded trial costing $20 million is studying the herb Ginkgo biloba and its effect on cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s patients who have started to show memory impairment.
Study Reveals How the World’s First Drug for Amyloid Disease Works
Tafamidis, used in Europe and currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is the first medication approved to treat an amyloid disease, a class of conditions that include Alzheimer’s. It has shown to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Another study is reviewing the impact of deep brain stimulation using continuous electrical impulses to specific “memory” regions of the brain of people with mild Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers observed only a handful of subjects and therefore it needs to be done on a broader scale to validate their findings. However, they found that the stimulation increased glucose metabolism, resulting in better outcomes in cognition, memory and quality of life. In addition, the stimulation increased connectivity in brain circuits associated with memory.
New Understanding of Alzheimer’s Trigger
Scientists have found a clear connection of amyloid plaques in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. But how does that happen? This new study looks at one potential mechanism. They found that a highly toxic beta-amyloid called pyroglutamylated (or pyroglu) in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease victims appears to greatly increase the toxicity of other more common and less toxic beta-amyloids thereby causing development of Alzheimer’s. They feel that, by finding the mechanism that begins the cascade of Alzheimer’s progression, they will be able to develop a drug to attack this toxic amyloid and slow or even prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many more studies are currently underway and more will begin to determine the cause and best treatment for prevention of the disease as well as best ways to slow its progression in those already suffering.
Our Support of Research is Needed
- If you or your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s, you can get involved in clinical trials studying the disease.
- Be an advocate for your caregiver, learn all you can about the disease.
- Be an active fundraiser taking part in events near you such as the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk or the Longest Day; support walkers who are participating, give a donation when asked by others who hold fashion shows, flower sales, t-shirt sales or other events in your area.
- Support legislators who are advocating for continued Alzheimer’s research efforts.
- Be a part of a support group to help not only yourself but others who are in need of your life experience.
We will continue to keep abreast of current research and give you information of advances as they happen as well as events in which you can advocate for a cure! Thank You!
While we’re advocating for a cure, we also need to continue to support services for those suffering from Alzheimer’s already – - as well as those family members providing care. Chances are a good portion of money raised at local Alzheimer’s Memory Walks and other events supports local services in addition to research.