There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, drug and non-drug therapies are currently available to help with the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of this devastating disease. In addition, researchers are working to find new treatments to alter the course of Alzheimer’s and improve quality of life for people with dementia.
Hope for Future Drugs to Treat Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association advocates for federal funding and funds research looking for new Alzheimer’s treatment strategies. The five drugs to treat Alzheimer’s currently approved by the FDA treat the symptoms but not the underlying causes of the disease. In contrast, new drugs being developed aim to modify the process of the disease by impacting wide-ranging changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s.
To learn how to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, scientists must first determine what causes the disease. The growing wealth of data on Alzheimer’s does not yet present a cohesive picture. A great deal of research has been focused on malformation of amyloid and tau proteins (classic characteristics of Alzheimer’s). However, other factors play a role in the disease, including inflammation, vascular health, lifestyle, and possibly viruses.
In the past three decades, researchers have made remarkable progress in understanding what happens in Alzheimer’s. Next-generation drug therapies currently under investigation are targeting various aspects of the disease.
What Is Involved in Alzheimer’s Research?
The best known clinical studies regarding Alzheimer’s are trials to test new treatments. The two types of treatment trials are designed to test:
Treatments aimed at reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s: New drugs and variations of existing drugs are tested for effectiveness in reducing symptoms. This may involve changing the dosage, taking medications more or less often, or combining medications in a way to further delay or reduce symptoms.
Treatments aimed at slowing or stopping the disease: New drugs designed to slow or stop Alzheimer’s are being tested in clinical trials. Some of the experimental drugs being tested represent entirely new approaches to treatment.
In prevention trials, researchers look for ways to stop Alzheimer’s from developing, including medications, vitamins, and lifestyle changes. These trials often involve groups of people who have a higher risk of developing the disease.
Funding for Alzheimer’s Research
Congress passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) in 2010 with the goal of effectively treating or preventing Alzheimer’s by the year 2025. The National Institutes of Health has funded approximately half a billion dollars in research, although one billion is closer to the amount of funding needed.
Medical Alarm Systems for Older People
Senior citizens have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than younger people, as well as a higher risk for serious falls, stroke, and other medical emergencies. It makes sense for seniors to have a medical alarm system that makes it possible to get help on the way with the push of a button in a crisis. See our medical alert review for information about medical alarm systems available today.