New Research Is Revealing Advances In Alzheimer Drugs
With over 27 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, it’s likely you know someone who has who has experienced it’s effects. As the most common form of dementia, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age starting at 65 but can sometimes start in the 40’s. People experiencing it’s effects typically have signs of memory loss, confusion, and even mood and behavioral changes. Though there is no cure for the disease, the last 15 years of research have given the medical world better understanding of how Alzheimer’s effects the brain, leading to advances in medicines and treatment options.
What happens to a brain with Alzheimer’s Disease?
Though the exact causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are still unknown, recent research points toward two substances in the brain’s cortex that may cause the damage to nerve cells. The first substance is a protein fragment commonly referred to as plaque. As plaque or β-amyloid grows in the brain, it may inhibit neurotransmission and influence various chemical levels in neurons. The second substance widely considered to affect the disease are twisted fibers called tau or tangles. As with plaques, tau can damage or kill nerve cells in the brain.
Current Alzheimer’s Medicine
Most current medicine focuses on decreasing tau and tangles in the brain. One theory explores the idea that the cholinergic system which uses a chemical called acetylcholine to transmit messages in the brain may also be producing tau and plaque. Common medicines approved by the FDA are cholinesterase inhibitors and are meant to increase acetylcholine. This increase has shown to improve and help maintain cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. These medicines include Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantimine.
Other medicines under clinical trials such as phenserine appear to improve cognitive function by increasing the values of “cerebral metabolic rate for glucose.” Another study of a Chinese herb called Huperzine A shows some promise for improving daily living activity as well as cognitive function in patients.
While Alzheimer drugs are improving, so are the methods of delivery. Instead of oral delivery, some researchers are exploring transdermal patches. Though clinical trials are still in progress, so far this option may help reduce nausea and vomiting sometimes associated with taking the drugs.
Other Care Options for Alzheimer’s Patients
While researchers are constantly working to find a cure, they have also developed treatments with vitamin E, estrogen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that focus on delaying the disease’s progression. Assisted living options have also improved and can help patients experiencing modified behaviors due to Alzheimer’s. Finding a safe environment with individualized care can help improve quality of life for patients.
Utilizing an assisted living center with memory care also gives patients access to the latest and most effective treatments for Alzheimer’s as research continues to find new ways of fighting the disease.