Alzheimer’s Research to Focus on Prevention

Prevention of Alzheimer’s is a more likely outcome than finding a cure, according to David Geldmacher, MD, director of the Division of Memory Disorders in the Department of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Effort at finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is still a goal, but due to advanced learning in the last decades, it has become apparent that prevention is a more realistic goal. A development contributing to Alzheimer’s research is a tool for detection of amyloid-beta buildup in the brain of living humans. No longer is an autopsy the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Today a PET scan (positron emission tomography) can discover amyloid plaques in a living person; they indicate an increased risk for Alzheimer’s at some point in the future. Researchers point out that prevention in the form of drugs is one way to approach the disease. Factors contributing to development of Alzheimer’s are things that can be changed, such as levels of physical activity, cholesterol counts and blood-pressure numbers. The disease is characterized differently now that PET imaging is available. “We used to consider mild cognitive impairment to be a precursor of Alzheimer’s. Now we look upon it as part of the disease, simply an early stage. For prevention strategies to work, we have to consider the first sign of amyloid buildup, before symptoms emerge, as the starting point of Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Erik Roberson, MD, professor of neuroscience and primary investigator at UAB for the DIAN-TU trial. Both researchers, Dr. Geldmacher and Dr. Roberson, indicate the need for better treatments for those already affected by Alzheimer’s, to include better support to caregivers and families of patients. They stress that dementia cannot be reversed so easing symptoms and providing a better qualify of life is crucial. For details, go to: https://alzheimersnewstoday.com/2017/04/13/researchers