According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and approximately 200,000 are under the age of 65, meaning they have what is called early or young onset Alzheimer’s.
Despite tens of billions of dollars and hundreds of billions of dollars in cost related to the disease, doctors and clinical researchers have essentially been stumped on even determining the cause, much less finding a cure.
Maybe there is no cure, and we just have to make it manageable. In Aging, a small pilot study detailed ten cases of people with the ApoE4 gene. These patients had documented cognitive decline based on both objective and subjective testing methods and were treated with the metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND) protocol for up to 24 months. The MEND protocol uses 36 different parameters, including diet, exercise, drugs, vitamins and brain stimulation therapy, so it was obviously tailored for each of the 10 patients, but even without a defined protocol each of the patients showed cognitive improvement, according to both family members and self-assessment, and objectively assessed using the neuropsychological testing and the mini mental status examination (MMSE).(1)
Patients who discontinued their personalized MEND protocol showed cognitive decline again while those patients who remained had sustained improvement, one even four years later.
It's a small pilot study, so how long the protocol must be adhered to for cognitive improvement to become permanent, or if that is even possible, remain unknown.
It's a glimmer of hope, at least. For about half of the patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, drugs like Donepezil and Memantine (more commonly known as Aricept and Namenda respectively) simply halt progression for a time, after which the patient continues to decline, and 190 Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in clinical trials.
(1) In one particular case, patient reversal of cognitive decline was noted alongside an increase in hippocampal volume from the 17th percentile to the 75th. This increase in brain volume is notable for two reasons: 1) The hippocampus plays an integral role in memory function and formation, and 2) Brain atrophy (loss of brain tissue) is a feature of Alzheimer's disease progression. In another case, quantitative neuropsychological testing found the patient’s improvement up to three standard deviations from his initial testing. Results of this caliber have never been reported previously in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease.