RESEARCH

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease – the disease where you die twice: once when you lose your ability to think and remember, and finally when your body gives up

Alzheimer’s disease has devastating consequences for afflicted individuals. Alzheimer’s disease is also life-altering for care-givers and family members. Alzheimer’s disease is said to be a disease where “you die two times: once when you lose your ability to think and remember, and finally when your body gives up”. Delay in onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology will have substantial positive quality of life outcomes for those afflicted with the disease, caregiver systems, and family members.

Diagnosis and Assessment of Risk Factors

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease remains a challenge. New tests increase our ability to diagnosis the disorder early-on. These tests include mental status and neuropsychological testing and increasing use of laboratory tests for disease markers, and brain imaging methods (Mayo Clinic, 2016). Recently, a simple blood test for beta-amyloids in the blood is being refined for clinic use (Nakamura et al, 2018). It is a promising technique that can predict the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Newest research is folding in use of Alzheimer disease gene risk factors to better identify individuals at higher risk (Wang et al, 2018). Diabetes, as well as hormone levels with aging (in men and women), exercise and lifestyle, and critical gene types (ApoE) better identify those at risk.

Current treatment options for Alzheimer’s

Current therapies available for Alzheimer’s disease are better focused on alleviating its effects together with lifestyle interventions, but do not directly address the causes of Alzheimer disease. Standard medical treatments today include medications to modify neuron communication. These include cholinesterase inhibitors and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists (Lakhan, 2018). Other therapeutic strategies are designed to manage associated mood disorders, agitation, depression and psychosis. However, no approved treatment that clearly addresses disease mechanism and beta-amyloid biology is available to date.

References

Karlawish, J. (2014). How Are We Going To Live With Alzheimer’s Disease? Health Aff (Millwood) 33(4): 541–546. doi:  10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0089

Lakhan, S., et al. (2018). Alzheimer Disease Treatment & Management. Retrieved from: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/ 1134817-treatment

Mayo Clinic. (2016). Diagnosing Alzheimer’s: How Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048075.

Nakamura, A., et. al. (2018).  High performance plasma amyloid-β biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. Nature 554, pages 249–254. doi:10.1038/nature25456

National Institute on Aging: Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet (Aug 17, 2016). Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/ health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

Wang, C. et al. (2018). Gain of toxic Apolipoprotein E4 effects in Human iPSC-Derived Neurons Is Ameliorated by a Small-Molecule Structure Corrector. Nature Medicine 24, pages 647–657 . doi:10.1038/s41591-018-0004-z

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