- Paul Organe and Andrew Webb
A new drug, a blood test and a specialized village are some of the things that have brought hope to people with Alzheimer’s over the past four years.
And there could be more on the way.
As part of World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21, we list four significant advances that have taken place in recent years.
What is Alzheimer’s diseaseandalways?
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in older adults and affects more than 55 million people, according to the organization Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).
bears the doctor’s name Aloys Alzheimerwho in 1906 found changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died with symptoms such as memory loss and speech problems.
“Research is improving the way we diagnose, prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease,” Sara Imarisio, senior researcher at Alzheimer’s Research UK, told the BBC.
“Many years of funding groundbreaking research and supporting brilliant people with bold ideas have brought us to this point where multiple potential treatments for Alzheimer’s are emerging.”
1. “Historical” Research on Genetic Influence (2022)
A “pioneering” study linked this year 42 additional genes diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for the first time.
Scientists from eight countries, including France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, examined the genetic material of 111,000 people with Alzheimer’s.
They identified 75 genes linked to an increased risk of developing the disease, including 42 that had not previously been linked.
These findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, suggest that Alzheimer’s is caused by many factors, with evidence that a specific protein is involved.
Study co-author Professor Julie Williams described the work as “a major step forward in our mission to understand Alzheimer’s, which may lead to the various treatments needed to delay or prevent the disease.”
“The results support our growing understanding that it is Alzheimer’s disease an extremely complex situationwith multiple triggers, biological pathways and cell types involved in its development,” he said.
Other research has shown that lifestyle factors, such as smoking and certain diets, affect who might get Alzheimer’s. But specialists believe so Genetics carry the greatest risk.
2. The Alzheimer’s Village (2020)
A new approach to the care and treatment of Alzheimer’s is to be established specially designed villas so that patients can lead seemingly normal lives, but always under the supervision of caregivers.
France has created a special Alzheimer’s Village in 2020, based on a “dementia” village in the Netherlands.
Landais Alzheimer’s is located in Dax in south-west France and has a grocery store, a hairdresser and even offers music nights.
It was designed to resemble a traditional medieval village as if it were a fortified city.
That’s what his architect told the newspaper Le Monde that the village had no visible fences, but many safe paths that were well integrated into the town’s social and cultural life.
Madeleine Elissalde, 82, was one of the first to move there.
“It’s like home”said Elissald. “We are well taken care of.”
“His memory loss is less severe,” says his granddaughter Aurore. “She’s happy, she’s rediscovered how to enjoy life.”
One of the consequences of setting up this Alzheimer’s Village is that the people who live nearby seem to be changing the way they look at people with Alzheimer’s disease.
An August 2022 Alzheimer’s Association survey of residents of the village’s host city showed a decrease in feelings of being rejected by people with Alzheimer’s after the village opened to the public, compared to another city without a village with these characteristics.
3. First new Alzheimer’s drug in 20 years (2021)
The first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years was approved by regulators in the United States in June 2021.
aducumab It targets the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, rather than its symptoms.
In March 2019, the final phase of the international clinical studies with aducanumab, in which around 3,000 patients participated, was stopped.
This happened because an analysis showed that the drug, given as a monthly infusion, did not improve the slowing down of memory loss and thinking problems.
But later that year, US manufacturer Biogen analyzed more data and concluded that the drug works as long as it’s given in higher doses.
The company also said it significantly reduced cognitive decline.
However, in December 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) rejected the approval.
The EMA said that aducanumab does not appear to be effective in treating adults with early-stage Alzheimer’s symptoms.
At the time of its approval in the US, several scientists said there was little study evidence of its benefits other than hints at the amyloida protein that forms abnormal clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
The bottom line is that while the new drug is on the market in the US, there are questions about its effectiveness elsewhere.
4. Blood Tests Before Alzheimer’s Symptoms Appear (2019)
Scientists said in 2019 they could accurately identify people on the road to developing Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear.
You bet this could help advance drug trials. American scientists were able to use amyloid levels in the blood to predict their accumulation in the brain.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Missouri, whose study was published in the journal Neurology, measured the levels of amyloid beta protein in the blood of 158 adults over the age of 50. They wanted to see if brain scans showed similar values.
The scans showed similar values, but only 88% of the time, which is not precise enough for a diagnostic test.
When the researchers combined this information with two other risk factors for the disease — older than 65 and people with a genetic variant called APOE4 — blood test accuracy improved to 94%.
The BBC quoted British experts in 2019 as saying the results were promising and a step towards reliable blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease and accelerating dementia research.
However, experts also warn against it Dependence on blood tests.
“Several dementia screening tests have been marketed directly to consumers. None of these tests have been scientifically proven to be accurate,” says the US Alzheimer’s Association.
The organization recommends a diagnosis by a doctor who assesses a number of factors.
“For this and other reasons, the Alzheimer’s Association believes in it Home screening tests cannot and should not replace a comprehensive examination by a qualified physician“.
In short, blood tests can be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease, but a behavioral diagnosis by a doctor is a critical goal in determining if symptoms are present.
The future of Alzheimer’s treatmentandAlways and dementia
There is more of 150 drugs in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, according to Sara Imarisio.
However, he cautions that it takes time for them to be approved and ready for use on a patient.
“In the future, prevention and The combination of pharmacological treatments and lifestyle changes may be the most effective strategy to limit the effects of dementia. While new drugs take many years to develop, lifestyle changes are available to everyone.”
In summary, reducing your risk by adopting various healthy lifestyle measures will help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
However, as medical science advances, it should also play an increasing role in combating this major cause of dementia.
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