A Rollercoaster Ride of Studies Providing Hope for Those As Yet Untouched by Alzheimer’s


    An interesting article about the future of Alzheimer's drugs titled, "Novel Therapeutics for Alzheimer's Disease," was recently published in Neurotherapeutics.


    Be aware that this is a journal for scientists and the article is written as such, so how much you get out of the article itself will depend on how much you've already learned about the physical intricacies of the disease. I've read enough books about Alzheimer's to follow  most of the jargon, but it's pretty daunting to try to distill the information further than the scientists already have, and I don't believe that's our mission here. If you want to read the full article, the link above will take you to it.

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    The hope offered by the article comes from statements like, "Although drugs currently available treat the symptoms with only minimal and temporary benefit, the coming years are expected to see the results of several clinical trials on novel therapeutics aimed at retarding disease progress."


    This is, of course, what we all want, though we'd like to see it sooner rather than later. I feel terrible for people who have Alzheimer's or have a loved one with the disease, and all they get are promises of drugs coming down the pipeline. I've even had several people ask me if there is a way (other than a drug trial, where you don't know if you are getting the drug or not) to get them earlier, because waiting for FDA approval will take too long for their own situation.


    My personal opinion is that when drugs have gotten to the later stages of research, if people want to sign off on any liability factors, they should be able to try them. But that's only my personal opinion. When someone is dying of cancer, many will want to try any drug that may help, as they are dying, anyway, without it, and one smidgen of hope from a new, unproven drug is, for them, better than nothing. I would assume nothing less goes through the minds of those dealing with Alzheimer's disease.


    Much of this article focuses on drugs that deal with brain proteins and with energy metabolism in the brain. The article states what I believe will be true, and that is that there will need to be more than one approach to treating Alzheimer's disease.


    I'd no more than finished reading the paper I mention above, than an alert on my computer brought me to "breaking news" about a new drug showing promise that is aimed at breaking up the protein tangles many consider a tell-tale sign of Alzheimer's. The drug is called Rember and is being developed by a Singapore company. As I'm reading this news release I'm thinking, "Didn't I just read a couple of studies that showed breaking up tangles wasn't working, and that people without Alzheimer's symptoms often have tangles?" My next thought was, "No wonder people with Alzheimer's and their loved ones get worn out by all of these press releases. They are big news for a short time and then they disappear. They contradict each other. The prove, then disprove accepted thinking, only to "prove" it one more time.


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    It's all enough to make a person dizzy. But that's research. As I've said in these posts many times, we'll see this go on and on, but one day there will be a crucial breakthrough (or more than one). A breakthrough that sticks.


    One day we may find that there is a combination of factors that cause Alzheimer's and it will take a combination of drugs to prevent or cure it. The only way we'll get there is to continue on with this sometimes infuriating rollercoaster ride of following studies, seeing what's new, what's promising, what may work. And then wait. And wait some more. Because they will all have to go through years of study.


    Meanwhile, those with Alzheimer's disease setting up camp in their brains gain little comfort from all the hoopla. For them, all of this moot. But we must soldier on, as generations are lined up at the door waiting and wondering. Am I next? Will I get Alzheimer's? And if I do, will there be help for me?


    For more information about Carol go to www.mindingourelders.com or www.mindingoureldersblogs.com.

Published On: July 31, 2008