New Approaches to One of the World’s Most Complex Diseases Are Aiming to Give Months and Years Back to Those Facing An Otherwise Uncertain Future
Alzheimer’s disease has been a top priority for biopharmaceutical researchers dedicated to discovering new treatments and cures. Current medicines that treat the disease’s cognitive symptoms are just the beginning. To conquer Alzheimer’s, researchers are working to identify and focus on treatments that may ultimately inhibit or halt disease progression.
In the last decade, emerging science has helped Alzheimer’s researchers unravel some of the major complexities of the disease. The more scientists learn, the better they are at developing new treatments aimed at slowing, and even preventing, Alzheimer's entirely. Today, with nearly 100 potential medicines in clinical trials, researchers are more optimistic than ever that a cure will be found well within our lifetime.
Using MRI-based technology, scientists can now identify early physical symptoms, like plaque buildup, that may differentiate mild cognitive impairment related to early-onset Alzheimer’s from normal aging. This allows researchers to see brain dysfunction in patients before they lose tissue and nerve cells.
Many of the new treatments in development have the potential to be the first disease-altering medication for this disease. One, for example, uses immunotherapy, an antibody treatment aimed to directly attack the disease and prevent it from progressing. Another possible treatment uses antibodies to significantly reduce the level of amyloid-β, a protein found in the brains of people with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are also testing treatments that target tau protein tangles that damage and kill brain cells, as well as a receptor that decreases a neurotransmitter necessary for the brain to think and function normally. Additionally, there are medicines being designed to decrease inflammation found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients while strengthening the immune system to fight the disease. If just one of these treatments is proven effective, we can possibly delay this disease by five years, reducing the number of people affected by roughly 40 percent.
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The war against Alzheimer’s might be far from over, but patients finally have hope for the future. And for good reason. With all the emerging advancements coming forward, we now have more promising treatments than ever before. One of which might just defeat this deadly disease entirely. For all of us.