With the media being consumed with covid-10 news, Alzheimer’s seems to have faded into the background. It’s true that covid-19 is a deadly scourge for older people with aging or weakened immune systems, but we all have to believe that someday soon we will have learned to contain it.
Alzheimer’s, however, will continue to be with us for the forseeable future. Here are some of the latest rays of hope about this dark disease.
Now that scientists have determined that beta-amyloid deposits aren’t a cause of Alzheimer’s, but rather the brain’s defense against it, strategies for finding a cure have changed. Researchers have decided that a gene called BACE2, which resides in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, may actually suppress the disease. Ironically, the experimental drugs being tested to cure Alzheimer’s were stopping BACE2 from working. So, scientists are rethinking their approach.
On the other hand, two new trials are starting to test a therapy called BAN2401, which will block amyloid beta accumulation. These studies will take more than four years to complete. So, does preventing amyloid accumulation help, or not? I suppose we may find out in a few years.
It is somewhat disheartening that scientists can’t even agree on what is causing Alzheimer’s to occur, and it takes years and years to test their theories.
There is some hope, however, that the time it takes to test a drug or a theory can be drastically shortened.
The team hopes that by creating lab controlled cellular environments that replicate human brain cells as the disease develops, the time it takes to test potential treatments could be decreased significantly, and thus the path to a cure could be diminished as well. In this study results were observed within 6 weeks, in the future if such an expedited timeline to determine the effectiveness of a drug saves many years of research, it could also save millions of lives and the suffering of those living with this horrible disease.
There is some good news out of Rhode Island, where a new Alzheimer’s drug is up for FDA approval.
"They looked at older people who lived a long life and either didn't get Alzheimer's or had a very slow form of it, something was retarding or resisting Alzheimer's Disease in their brain," explained Salloway, and that's how, he said, they developed Aducanumab -- which contains one of those antibodies that appears to slow the progression of memory loss by targeting the proteins, or plaques believed responsible.
"It's an antibody that binds to the amyloid plaque and it stimulates the immune system to come and clear the plaque out of the brain," said Salloway.
It's considered a game changer because it provided what researchers say was a meaningful reduction in the worsening of symptoms -- particularly in those with mild impairment.
Early diagnosis can improve your chances of living a full, healthy life. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is currently offering free screenings through secure video conferencing. Call 866-232-8484 to make an appointment.
And, as we all should know by now, a healthy lifestyle can decrease your risk of getting Alzheimer’s. And, for those who don’t know, a healthy lifestyle includes the following:
- physical activity
- not smoking
- light-to-moderate alcohol consumption
- a high-quality diet
- cognitive activities