New Alzheimer’s Research Could Lead to Early Detection and More

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If it seems as if there’s a new study on Alzheimer’s disease released at least once a month, that’s because there is. Although the widespread disease is terminal, the breaking research provides hope by showing progress toward an eventual cure.

Two new studies point to drugs that may alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, while a third study indicates that a blood test could potentially predict Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear, possibly resulting in more effective treatments. Let’s take a look at this groundbreaking research and what it could mean to Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families.

Depression Drug Could Treat Alzheimer’s
The antidepressant Celexa (generic name citalopram) could slow or prevent Alzheimer’s, according to a study led by Drs. Yvette Sheline of the University of Pennsylvania and John Cerrito of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. In laboratory mice given citalopram, the sticky plaques that form in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients even before symptoms show up stopped growing.

Additionally, healthy adults given doses of the drug showed a reduced production of amyloid. The plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are caused by a protein caused beta-amyloid that goes awry.

The researchers are quick to caution that the antidepressant carries significant side effects and is not “the great new hope,” but just another small step in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. But, as caregivers know, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is not a single monumental heroic act, but a series of small victories every day, and it is the same with Alzheimer’s research and treatments.

Promising Drug Could Reverse Alzheimer’s
An even more promising development is a new drug, J147, developed by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The compound has been shown to reverse memory deficit and reduced soluble levels of amyloid in genetically engineered mice with Alzheimer’s. The drug is ready for human clinical trials.

Blood Test Could Aid in Early Treatment of Alzheimer’s
Researchers agree that effective treatment for Alzheimer’s should begin in the earliest stages of the disease. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms appear, plaques and tangles have already appeared in the brain and the disease has begun its irreversible course.

A research team led by Howard Federoff, MD, PhD, executive dean at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., may have discovered a blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s two to three years before the first signs of cognitive impairment appear. If it’s proven accurate, the test could enable earlier treatments that might respond better to existing or even not-yet-developed drugs to fight the disease.

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry will discuss the implications of this blood test at the 2014 AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago.

One can only guess what developments further Alzheimer’s research will bring, but, every new study brings doctors and scientists closer to finding a cure.

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