Alzheimer’s disease is the subject of intense research as we seek to determine the cause(s) of the disease. Identifying underlying causes can provide an opportunity to recognize risk factors and potential treatment pathways. Furthermore, this research could pinpoint ways to eradicate the disease altogether.
Current research has identified environmental, occupational as well as genetic risks associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Environmental factors can include our physical surroundings but also focuses on how we attend to our internal health. Some of the most prevalent medical conditions that have a direct relationship to Alzheimer’s are cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes. Research has also revealed genes that play a significant role in an individual’s increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
As a result of years of intensive research, science has discovered some symptomatic treatments. The marketed drugs available include cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine, and the NMDA antagonist, Memantine. Since the approval of Memantine in 2003, we have not had any new Alzheimer’s drugs introduced to the market. Research also shows the value of diet and exercise cannot be overemphasized as they contribute to the body’s wellbeing that goes beyond the physical advantage. The brain is the true beneficiary of a healthy diet and exercise, which may contribute to lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
As research continues to provide a better understanding of the disease process and its biological basis, the industry is invested in and committed to exploring drugs that could potentially modify disease pathways and even prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies are also being conducted to prevent the development of the disease by identifying the population at a great risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease based on genetics, biological markers and familial risk factors. These studies could not be successful without the help and support of our community. Together we can reach these breakthroughs.
Significant strides have been made in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and steps have been taken to manage this devastating disease. However, this is only the beginning. It is extremely important that we all get involved and keep an open mind about participating in research trials. These trials help us in developing better drugs for current and future generations. Please contact the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in your area for the latest on Alzheimer’s news and research.
M. Reza Bolouri, MD
Alzheimer’s Memory Center