One of my biggest fears is Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which affects 55 million individuals worldwide, robbing them of their memories, cognitive abilities and in the later stages causing physical decline. My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease, and Nancy Reagan was right when she called it the “long good-bye”.
For decades, the search for effective treatments and prevention strategies has been relentless. In this blog, we’ll explore the latest developments in Alzheimer’s treatment and ways to slow its progression, as well as strategies for preventing it in the first place.
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s are expected to double by 2050. Currently most remain undiagnosed! Let’s face it there is a huge stigma surrounding any mental health diagnosis and why bother with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) if there is no cure?
It is essential to understand Alzheimer’s disease itself. Alzheimer’s is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, such as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. These disrupt neural communication and lead to cognitive decline.
Traditional drug treatments for Alzheimer’s, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, have limited effectiveness in managing symptoms. However, recent research has led to the development of promising new drugs like lecanemab -irmb, or Leqembi. This drug is designed to target beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles more directly, slowing down the progression of the disease and improving cognitive function. Donanemab, by Eli Lilly is another similar drug. However, the risk-benefit ratio is still to be determined.
Tailoring treatment to an individual’s unique genetic and biomarker profile is an emerging approach. There are 3 identified sub-types of Alzheimer’s which would all require different strategies. Personalized medicine will allow for more effective and targeted treatments based on a person’s specific Alzheimer’s subtype and genetic predisposition.
Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and cognitive stimulation, have shown potential in delaying cognitive decline. These interventions can complement drug therapies and improve overall quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s. There are new AI approaches which could rapidly lead to individualized prevention and care. I find this intriguing and plan to continue to investigate.