Alzheimer’s disease impacts the entire world
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most serious afflictions of our generation. Current projections indicate that some form of dementia will strike approximately 50 million individuals around the world, and in the majority of cases, it will be Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s impacts not only the patient, but also family members who are strapped with the emotional and financial burden of caring for a loved one who may not even remember their name.
Is there any hope?
The serious consequences of Alzheimer’s disease has propelled numerous research efforts to seek better treatment therapies and ultimately a prevention tool. For instance, researchers currently at the Raskamp Institute began in the early 1990s to examine the role of a protein known as amyloid, which occurs naturally in the brain, but in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, there is an unhealthy build-up of it resulting in the destruction of brain cells. Researchers wanted to know if it was the amyloid itself that was causing Alzheimer’s. In their study, it was concluded that amyloid was a causative agent.
Drugs that target amyloid hold promise for prevention and better treatment
It appears that their findings have been confirmed. Biogen Idec developed and recently completed phase 2 trials on a drug named aducanumab that specifically targets amyloid. The newly released findings reveal that, after a year-long test of early stage Alzheimer’s patients, amyloid seems to cause Alzheimer’s. Two key aspects of the test must be kept in mind though: (1) test subjects were in the early stage of Alzheimer’s and (2) there are other causative factors, such as genetics, that play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, the results give new hope to researchers developing drug treatments that target amyloid. Positive results from aducanumab also is good news for ongoing research at Roskamp Institute where nilvadipine, a drug developed by the Institute’s team of scientists, is ready to go to phase 3 trials in nine countries. This drug also targets the amyloid protein. Both trials hopefully will result in the necessary confirmation that drugs that attack amyloid might actually bring a universal end to the suffering of Alzheimer’s disease.