When will we get a cure for Alzheimer's Disease?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

There is no definitive answer to this ubiquitous question. The best we can do is to watch the advance of science through the published literature and to follow the clinical trials from which the answer will one day emerge.

While the pathology of Alzheimer's disease is still not well understood, scientists have developed a host of well-grounded theories. Several treatment agents, based on those theoretical foundations, are currently in development or in clinical trial.

Here is an excellent summary of the leading treatment hypotheses as well as the development status of the most promising treatment agents. Some of the information is a bit technical but I think the lay person can read this and get a good sense of the time frame for a meaningful advance. It should be clear that no cure is imminent but equally clear that several treatment agents are in advanced stages of clinical trial.

Predicting the results of these trials is hampered by our vague understanding of what causes Alzheimer's Disease. On the bright side, one or another of these agents may be surprisingly effective in altering the disease course and could be available in less than five years. On the dark side, they may all turn out to be ineffective in which case we would be more than five years away from a meaningful new medication. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we all need to be proactive in identifying and managing our risk factors for cognitive decline (the topic of an upcoming blog) and physicians must be vigilant about acting on evidence or suspicion of decline among their patients. Until better treatments are discovered, we must intervene as early as possible with the current medications to maximally delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

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