The field of Alzheimer's research desperately needs a breakthrough. Despite the best efforts of any number of dedication researchers, scientists, and doctors, there are still only five drugs approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, and none of them have the ability to change the condition; they simply treat symptoms, and not always effectively.
Meanwhile, Alzheimer's drug trials have a failure rate of more than 99% percent – virtually all of them fail. However, experts continue to look deeper into the problem to find a cure or an effective treatment, and there may be better news on the way. Check out three new Alzheimer's approaches that are showing promise.
There are two new drugs that are in the trial phases that might represent a whole new approach to Alzheimer's drug treatment. One is designed to reduce the brain inflammation that accompanies the disease. Subjects that were treated with the drug for 16 months saw an improvement in memory function, especially those that carried a genetic marker that seems to indicate a high risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Another drug, called a BACE inhibitor, is designed to block the enzymes that form the plaques in the brain that characterize Alzheimer's disease. While it's not clear yet whether blocking the plaque from being formed will prevent or delay the onset of the disease, there is evidence to show that the drug works as intended.
New Non-Drug Regimen
Drugs may not be the only options for Alzheimer's patients. According to a medical study first published in the journal Aging, a non-drug regimen has been successful in reversing some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in patients who were in the earlier stages of the disease.
The regimen included vitamins, dietary changes, exercise, brain stimulation, and sleep optimization. Study subjects were told to take B-12 vitamins, use the natural supplement melatonin to improve their sleep patterns, eat more fish and less carbs, and practice yoga and meditation. Researchers are planning to conduct more extensive trials of this regimen.
An MRI machine isn't new technology, but some experts think that it may have a new use – early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Swiss researchers believe that using an MRI machine to examine blood flow to a specific area of the brain may be the key to early detection and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
It's thought that there are drugs in trials that, while they may not work on later stage patients, may be effective for patients when the disease is caught in the earliest of stages. Brain scans could be responsible for significantly speeding up Alzheimer's research and treatment development, and would also allow patients to take preventative measures, such as changing their diet or taking supplements.
There are too many people waiting on a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Hopefully these new treatment and prevention methods will begin to make that cure a reality.