New drugs are focusing on curing Alzheimer’s disease. In this new decade of the 2020’s, scientists are determined to find a cure for this intractable disease. Alzheimer’s researchers are testing a variety of potential treatments to help the almost 6 million Americans living with this fatal disease.
At a recent meeting — the 12th annual Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) — experts shared some new findings, including a new use for a drug now used for Parkinson’s disease In addition, there is new hope from an old drug trial.
New Drugs: Relief For Dementia-related Delusions
Hallucinations, delusions and paranoia are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But for the more than 2 million Americans who experience them, there is no federally approved treatment to curb them.
This could change soon. A drug used for Parkinson’s-related psychosis, called pimavanserin, could also help people with dementia. Research on the drug was stopped before the trial’s end when early results showed this medication prolongs the time between psychotic episode relapses.
This is big news as dementia-related psychosis is very difficult, if not impossible to treat. It can get to a point where the dementia sufferer becomes a danger to themselves and their caregiver. At this point, the person has to be institutionalized.
Indeed, the problem is so severe, that some facilities will not accept them. Instead, they’re sent to the hospital emergency room, which is not a long-term solution.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals, which makes pimavanserin, plans to discuss the study’s results with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first half of 2020. If approved for use in people with dementia, pimavanserin would be the first new medicine made available for people living with Alzheimer’s in decades.
New Drugs: Aducanumab
Biogen Inc. is waiting for FDA approval for its drug, Aduncanumab. In clinical trials, this drug slowed mental decline in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The data shows that patients with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia, improved in both mental and physical functioning. who received higher doses saw improvements in mental and physical functioning. Aducanumab targets beta amyloid — a protein that abnormally accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. This protein buildup prevents the transmission of information to the brains’ long-term and short memory centers.
Studying Other Pathways
Experts are also studying different pathways, including the roles of inflammation, diabetes and antiviral therapies on Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers agree that the severity of this disease will require multiple drug affecting different pathways. It will not hinge on one single type of drug or prescription.
Lifestyle changes will also likely be a big part of future Alzheimer’s treatments. For example, the effects of diet, exercise and chronic disease management impact upon this disease. To date, several studies show that exercising and maintaining low blood pressure reduce one’s risk for dementia. These lifestyle changes also slow its progression in those who already have it.
While genetic factors cannot be changed, lifestyle alterations can help mitigate and perhaps bring a cure to this deadly disease.