Alzheimer’s Disease: Is There A Cure on the Horizon?

Memory lossAs we age, we all occasionally stumble to remember a name or find ourselves in the middle of a room trying to remember what we were looking for.  Do you worry that these memory lapses might be signaling impending dementia?"

Believe it or not, we have always had imperfect recall but when we’re young we never let it bother us. When is it time to ask our doctor if your memory loss is normal or cause for greater concern? Researchers who reviewed federal government data on more than 10,000 people found that in 2011, only 1 in 4 adults aged 45 or older talked about memory problems with their doctor during a routine checkup. Furthermore, the chance that a person would admit to a memory problem in a doctor's office visit declined with advancing age. This is unfortunate. Discussing a plan for long term care early results in many more options for individualized care than waiting until your loved ones are in crisis mode. 

While memory lapse is usually not a cause for concern, it's the stigma of dementia that keeps many from discussing this issue even with their doctors.  Nor is the discussion with a medical professional especially easy for either party. When a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, there's little that can be medically done other than slowing the progression of the disease. While the available medications are better than nothing, even doctors can feel helpless in face of this devastating disease given its long term care implications.

However, it is imperative to share your concerns over memory loss with your doctor because dementia is not the only explanation.  Depression, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, dehydration, medication side effects and even alcoholism are all suspects that need to be ruled out. Best of all, these conditions are all treatable with any memory loss usually reversible.

There are two very promising studies that well mean a cure for Alzheimer’s disease although it's years away from being offered to those who suffer from this affliction. The breakthrough came when the cause of Alzheimer’s disease was isolated.  The disease develops when the brain fails to remove damaging amyloid plaques and tau proteins. Two research teams, Queensland Brain Institute in Queensland, Australia and Stanford University in California may be at the forefront of finding a cure.  Researchers at Queensland seems to have developed a treatment to clear the amyloid plaques using “focused therapeutic ultrasound”.  This non-invasive treatment opens up the blood-brain barrier in order to facilitate the emergence of microglial cells that remove both the amyloid plaques and the lesions caused by tau proteins. Once microglial cells have re-entered these affected areas, they very quickly and efficiently remove these toxins before the blood brain barrier is restored. This is an important part of the process as this barrier protects the brain from infection.  Although this ultrasound has only been used to treat mice thus far, human trials are scheduled for 2017.  75% of the mice exhibited a complete reversal of memory loss with no brain damage. Stanford University’s approach to a cure centers on developing a drug that blocks the production of EP2 protein that forms in the aging brain. It is the formation of this protein that stops the microglial cells from doing their job. Like Queensland, this drug has only be tested on mice so far but clinical trials on humans are planned. Wow! Stay tuned.

References: US News & World Report (January 28, 2016) "Too Few Older Adults Tell Doctors about Memory Loss: Study" Help Guide. Org and Natural Health Online. Com “Good News – New Alzheimer’s Treatment Fully Restores Memory Without Side Effects “ The Telegraph “Has Stanford University found a cure for Alzheimer's disease?


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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.