ACSH medical director Dr. Gilbert Ross and ACSH friend, the Hoover Institution s Dr. Henry Miller, have taken to Forbes.com to discuss the current state of Alzheimer s disease (AD) in our country. The article imparts a thorough discussion on the state of diagnostics, treatment and research of a disease whose prevalence is on the rise in America. The writers point out that in comparison with higher profile diseases (such as heart disease and cancer) that can be curable or at least treatable, AD has no such regimens. Once a patient starts down the AD path, there is no looking back:
There are few more gruesome ends to life, and while many forms of cancer and heart disease the major killers of Americans are treatable, and even preventable, such is not the case with AD. Once symptoms begin, the future is inscribed in stone, with only the time-frame subject to some variability.
The article takes aim at explaining some of the main obstacles physicians and researchers have when confronted with AD. The complex relationship between mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD, as well as the still fully unresolved interplay between tau, amyloid-beta and the diseases progression are all discussed by Ross and Miller. They also take time to describe some of the recent research in the field, particular as it relates to MCI and AD.
Their overall conclusion is one of hopefulness, as the disease is a major target of both researchers and financial donors: hundreds of labs and many billions of research dollars are addressing the challenges of AD, and a new $100 million venture capital fund focused on treating and preventing dementia has been formed by the UK government, a major charity and several big pharma companies. We are optimistic that one day AD will follow cancer, heart disease and AIDS into the realm of treatable diseases.
ACSH s Nicholas Staropoli had this to say: The need for earlier diagnostic methods to identify signs of impending AD biomarkers, imaging studies, genetic analyses are desperately needed to allow pharmaceutical researchers to develop and test potential therapies to impede AD s relentless progress, or even prevent it. Such work is ongoing now, and it cannot proceed to rapidly given the current dire scenario.