Scientists tested with potential therapies in people who do not have many symptoms of Alzheimer’s, before much of their brain is destroyed: a fundamental change in the way that specialists tend to prevent the devastation that causes the disease.
The most ambitious attempt to date is announced an international study, which will follow up on an experimental drug to determine if it can stop the disease in people who are healthy but have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s type than there is a family history.
A second study will examine whether a nasal spray that sends insulin to the brain helps people with early memory problems, based on other research linking diabetes with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new approach comes as the administration of President Barack Obama takes the first national strategy to combat the epidemic of Alzheimer’s, which is spreading. The plan is to have effective treatments for 2025.
“We are in an exceptional moment” more important discoveries about Alzheimer’s in recent months than in recent years, said Tuesday Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, for its acronym in English).
However, a meeting this week of the leading scientists in this disease in the world made it clear that achieving the 2025 deadline will require developing a mix of treatments for the different ways that Alzheimer’s harms the brain, in the same way is given a combination of drugs to treat hypertension or HIV.
Perhaps more importantly, require testing potential drugs before the attack Alzheimer full force, when it would be too late to accomplish much.
After all, Alzheimer’s begins destroying brain at least a decade before presenting memory problems, and doctors are not waiting for the worst symptoms before treating heart disease, cancer or diabetes, said Dr. Reisa Sperling, of Harvard Medical School.
“Once, the train station degeneration, may be too late to try to stop it,” said Sperling. “We need to define the crucial margin for intervention.”
Future therapies are far from being the only goal of the first National Plan Against Alzheimer’s. It is an approach with two branches, which also promises to provide better support to the bereaved families along the way.
“You need to do more and be required to do so now, because people with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones and carers need help now,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announcing the Plan.
Among the first steps is a new website at the address www.alzheimers.gov that Sebelius is considered complete for families and offers easy to understand information about dementia, and links to resources in their own communities.
The government will offer free training for doctors and other health personnel on how to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s and caring for these patients.
This summer will launch a campaign to improve awareness of the public about Alzheimer’s important to reduce the stigma that helps whip up that evil is diagnosed in late and the isolation felt by many families affected.
There is no cure. The five drugs on the market only reduce some symptoms temporarily.
Meanwhile, there are steps to protect the brain, which anyone can make and that would be useful, said Dr. Carl Cotman of the University of California at Irvine, during Tuesday’s meeting of the NIH.
The recommendations are:
-The brain is like a muscle, you have to exercise it. Intellectual stimulation and social help build what is called “cognitive reserve” means the ability to resist declines caused by aging and dementia.
-Physical exercise is also crucial. Clogged arteries reduce blood flow to the brain and people who are less active at midlife have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease as they age.
“Every time one’s heart is healthier, the brain,” said Dr. Elizabeth Head of the University of Kentucky.
And do not forget the diet, he said. The same foods that are healthy for the heart are to the brain, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.