The fight against Alzheimer’s disease may be helped by a new drug which is on the horizon for those battling the neurodegenerative disease. T-817-MA is the first new Alzheimer’s drug to come on the market since 2003. The research team at Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Boston Medical Center are currently conducting clinical trials with the new drug. Participants in the Noble Study are already in the moderate stages of dementia, presenting with disorientation and problems with short-term memory. Research doctor Robert Stein states dogmatically that the drug is the most promising to slow down Alzheimer’s.
Five drugs in all are approved to treat Alzheimer’s: Remilyn, Exelon, Aricept and Cognex are cholinesterase inhibitors, which are drugs that delay the breakdown of chemicals that help nerve cells communicate among themselves. These four drug treatments are most effective when administered in the early stages of dementia. Patients with Alzheimer’s do not have enough of this important chemical in their brain.
The fifth drug, and last to be approved for Alzheimer’s, Namenda, protects the brain from being overexposed to glutamate. Too much of this chemical in the brain destroys brain cells. Namenda is like the new drug, T-817-MA ,and can be used in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Additionally, the new drug may take the extra step to protect brain cells from the destruction of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a disease best treated early, as trained professionals will be able to tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and any other neurodegenerative disease. This is due to there being marked differences in the symptoms.
The most tell-tale sign of Alzheimer’s is forgetting. While it is normal to occasionally “misremember” names or dates, forgetting recently-learned information may be problematic. Having difficulty preparing a familiar meal or even making a phone call may be signs of an impending Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Dysphasia is the inability to pull up a specific word. They may say “thing on my head” because they cannot pull up the word “hat.” Disorientation is common, and many tragic stories can happen to people who become lost. Former supermodel B. Smith, who has Alzheimer’s, recently got lost for several hours, only to be found near one of her previous residences.
People with Alzheimer’s may express poor judgment, as in wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather. The person may exhibit a change in their behavior, becoming more passive or even more aggressive than they had been before. People with Alzheimer’s often misplace things, even putting things in strange places. They will put their keys in the refrigerator or fresh food in the storage shed.
Five million people in America currently battle Alzheimer’s and the numbers will climb to 15 million by 2020. People may be concerned about being diagnosed with it, as it is sixth leading cause of death among the neurodegenerative diseases.
It is important to know that Alzheimer’s is a disease, and dementia is one of the symptoms of the disease. A person may have dementia, and not Alzheimer’s, because there are several diseases that mimic Alzheimer’s.
Dementia with Lewy Body is the most common type of progressive dementia. It is marked by cognitive decline, loss of spontaneous motion, and visual hallucinations. This type of dementia may do well with the new Alzheimer’s drug. Wernicke-Karsakoff is a brain disorder that comes from a lack of thiamine. It also comes from malnutrition or alcohol withdrawal. With aggressive treatment, it may regress. NPH, a form of hydrocephalus, results from too much water on the brain. Fluid presses down and destroys brain tissue, but a shunt improves 60 percent of all patients. CJD is a rare and ultimately fatal form of dementia. This genetic disease effects only one in every one million people worldwide, leaving the patient mentally deteriorated, comatose, or blind.
By Danielle Branch
Photo by Thomas Van de Vosse – Flickr
Photo by Alan Kotok – Flickr