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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is an incurable, progressive, fatal brain disease with profound implications for the entire community and healthcare system:

  • The human brain is the most complex organ on earth, with over 100 billion nerve cells or neurons, connected at a mind-boggling 100 trillion points!!!
  • The brain is the least understood organ; we are therefore far from a cure at this time.
  • AD is the most common form of dementia, the other types being vascular dementia, mixed dementia, frontotemporal dementia, etc.
  • Early symptoms include loss of short-term memory, apathy and depression.
  • Later symptoms include impairment of judgment, confusion, behavior changes, difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking.
  • In AD, nerve cells deteriorate and die. Brains with advanced AD show significant shrinkage due to cell loss.
  • Until some better treatments are developed, AD will continue to place great strain on caregivers and patients – emotional, physical, financial:
  • One out of every Eight people over age 65 suffer from AD
  • The AD population is growing because of steady growth of population segment over age 65 (by 2030 this segment is expected to double)
  • It is the 7th leading cause of death, with $ 172 Billion annual health cost
  • There are almost 11 million unpaid caregivers today.

The focus in the last 20 years has been to try and slow down disease progression. The two common medications being used are Aricept and Namenda. Researchers are trying several different approaches with new medications under development, including immunotherapy:

  • We are currently working on a trial, which targets the symptoms of agitation in AD patients.
  • We have been conducting clinical trials with new medications / mechanisms to combat AD
  • We will continue to focus on AD trials, as we believe this will become a major public health issue in the next few years.

For more detailed information on the nature of the disease, medications under development etc., please visit the Alzheimer’s Association website: www.alz.org