Oct 6, 2017 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing
The number of men and women who have Alzheimer's in the U.S. is over five million. Calculating the growth rate over the years, it's estimated that 16 million will have the disease by 2050. Researchers are doing everything they can to slow or stop the disease. Here are three recent discoveries.
Artificial Intelligence Can Identify the Disease Before Symptoms Appear
At McGill University, sciences in the Translational Neuroimaging Lab created an algorithm that artificial intelligence can use to identify dementia before symptoms appear. While this cannot keep the progression from happening, families and doctors will be able to prepare earlier. Patients will be able to get onto medications to slow the progression sooner than usual.
Brain scans are the first step to this diagnosis process. The algorithm used by the AI then look for amyloid proteins. It's believed that these proteins begin building up decades before the symptoms appear. Using brain scans of people before and after they developed dementia, the AI has been able to correctly predict the people who had dementia 8 out of 10 times.
ApoE Gene May Be Key to Stopping the Disease
Dr. David Holtzman of the Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri headed a study looking at the ApoE gene. This gene creates one of the proteins that helps carry cholesterol through the body. There are several forms of the ApoE gene.
It's ApoE4 that is being studied as a key to Alzheimer's disease. The study found that people with that specific gene are up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's. People with multiple copies of the gene are 12 times more likely. Research is needed to find out exactly what role this gene has in the development of Alzheimer's, however.
A New Vaccine and Pill Are Undergoing Human Testing
Two new Alzheimer's drugs entered the next phase of testing. After successful tests on lab animals, an oral medication and a vaccine are being tested on humans. The vaccine works to block the build-up of amyloid proteins in the brain. The oral medication blocks the enzyme that creates the amyloid proteins. It's expected that the trial will last between five and eight years.
You do need to have a support team in place when your mom or dad develops Alzheimer's. Around-the-clock care is exhausting and stressful. It's impossible to handle all of the care by yourself without impacting your own health.
Look into elderly care services sooner rather than later. Even if you only have a caregiver help your mom a few hours a week, the break will really help you avoid frustration and stress. Call an elderly care agency to learn more about the benefits of Alzheimer's care.
If you or an elderly loved one are considering elderly care in Belle Mead, NJ, or the surrounding areas, call the caring professionals at Comfort Keepers of Flemington, NJ. Call today (908) 806-2220.