It seems like there is no end in sight for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Quality Family Care is actively involved in helping find a cure through fund raising and awareness. There are over 5.7 million Americans living with the condition currently. Dealing with the loss of cognitive functioning is a daily struggle for everyone involved. We see it everyday in our line of work. At this moment there are no effective treatments that alter the effect of Alzheimer’s on an individual, and once diagnosed, life expectancy is proven to be about seven years.
Research into solutions for Alzheimer’s is filled with setbacks.
Between 1998 and 2017, 146 candidate medicines were unsuccessful in medical trials for Alzheimer’s treatments. In the same timeframe, just four received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Moreover, these approved medicines treat only symptoms and are unable to slow the disease down or better yet stop it.
This comes a s a surprise when we have seen such progress in our ability to treat other issues like cancer, diabetes and HIV. Why is progress in Alzheimer’s research been so difficult to achieve? There are a lot of factors make Alzheimer’s uniquely challenging to research and treat:
Identifying clinical trial participants is a huge challenge.
Alzheimer’s progresses over the course of years, not months, and patients can sometimes have the disease for 20 years before showing symptoms. By the time cognitive functioning is impaired, the disease is often so advanced that intervening treatments may not have much of an effect. Thus, it is extremely difficult to find clinical trial participants for medicines that can potentially treat Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages because patients are usually unaware they are in the early stages of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose.
Alzheimer’s symptoms can mimic those of many other diseases, and the condition cannot be definitively diagnosed with any single lab test, scan or exam. Instead, doctors generally rely on evaluation of symptoms of the disease, and are increasingly using imaging tests, particularly in research. However, non-imaging biomarkers are needed to advance our capabilities to more easily monitor disease progression and response to treatment as well as improve the rigor and efficiency of clinical trials.
Alzheimer’s biological pathway is not well understood…yet.
As of now, researchers understand that abnormal fragments of a protein called beta-amyloid accumulate to form “plaques” in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s, particularly in regions that support memory. In addition, the accumulation of tau proteins is another hallmark of the disease, but researchers are still debating whether these characteristics of Alzheimer’s are causes or symptoms of the disease.
Even with the challenges and multiple setbacks we have seen, there is still reason for hope. Clinical scientists learn from even the most unsuccessful medicine in the pipeline and use those findings to inform future research. Currently, companies are researching 92 potential medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. And approximately 75 percent have the potential to be disease-modifying treatments. The sooner the better.
Until then, we all can do our part no matter how insignificant it may seem. Here are a few ways you can help!
JOIN THE FIGHT
» Volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association. Visit alz.org/CRF to find an office in your area.
» Become an advocate. Visit alz.org/advocacy.
» Participate in a clinical study as a healthy volunteer. Get started by creating a profile with Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch®
Quality Family Care is dedicated to helping with Alzheimers research, development, education and fund raising. If you or a loved one is in need of in-home care-giving services that help with problems associated with Alzheimer’s, contact Quality Family Care today at 877-513-7156 to talk to one of our referral specialists to find the perfect match for your needs. You are not alone!