Is It Possible?: A Treatment for Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a form of dementia that causes problems with thinking, memory and behavior. Symptoms often start slowly and end up growing worse over the course of time until they become so severe that they interfere with your everyday tasks. Roughly, 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases are related to Alzheimer's disease.

While some feel that this disease is just a normal part of the aging process, that is nowhere near the case. Sure, people who are ages 65 and older are more prone to the disease, but that doesn't mean you are going to get it just because you are older. In fact, many of the early onset symptoms of the disease start appearing in someone who is in their 40s and 50s. This early-onset form of Alzheimer's can cause you to feel isolated and afraid. All of the things that you used to remember are becoming a distant blur. Beyond being frustrating, it is also extremely debilitating.

It begins with your not being able to remember simple things such as what you did last week. Then, you get to the point where you cannot carry on a simple conversation or respond to things going on in your environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the entire United States. Individuals who are diagnosed with the disease and have noticeable symptoms only end up living an average of eight years. However, survival can vary widely from four years on up to 20 years depending on overall health and age.

Not only is Alzheimer's stressful and overwhelming for the person suffering with the disease, but it is also stressful for those around them. Individuals often end up forgetting who their spouse or children are. Everyone seems like a stranger to them in their own home. This is a horrible experience for everyone involved, especially when you have spent years with this person. Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon for those who are suffering with Alzheimer's.

The University of Zurich has developed a new antibody, Aducanumab, that can help reduce harmful beta-amyloid plaques in those who are in the early stages of the disease. All of these protein deposits on the brain are a sign of the disease and end up contributing to the degeneration of the brain cells. After one year of treatment with this antibody, cognitive decline slowed. Even though the main cause of the disease isn't known, it does commence with amyloid deposition in the brain about 10-15 years before any clinical symptoms set in.

This antibody helps to bind the plaques and allow the microglial cells to eliminate them. During this one-year trial, the harmful plaques were almost entirely removed from those who were treated. All in all, this is some of the most exciting news to date. It brings about hope to those who are struggling with the disease. A hope that hasn't been there for the last 25 years.

The new drug was developed using blood from a group of elderly individuals ranging in age up to 100 who demonstrated no cognitive impairment. Researchers were able to isolate the immune cells and work to come up with a solution to help these individuals suffering from Alzheimer's. Who knows what the future may bring, but it is definitely looking good for those suffering from this deadly disease.

 

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