Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop

University of Virginia study: Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop, study suggests

5 Aug

The Alzheimer’s Association describes Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s and Dementia basics
• Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Learn more: What Is Dementia, Research and Progress
• Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).
Learn more: Early-Onset Alzheimer’s, Risk Factors

• Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
Learn more: 10 Warning Signs, Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
• Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
Learn more: Treatments, Treatment Horizon, Prevention, Clinical Trials
Help is available
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease.
• Call our 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900
• Locate your local Alzheimer’s Association
• Use our Virtual Library
• Go to Alzheimer’s Navigator to create customized action plans and connect with local support services https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

A University of Virginia study points to treating the disease before symptoms manifest as the most desired option.

Science Daily reported in Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop, study suggests:

About 50 percent of people who reach the age of 85 will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Most will die within about five years of exhibiting the hallmark symptoms of the disease — severe memory loss and a precipitous decline in cognitive function.
But the molecular processes that lead to the disease will have begun years earlier.
Currently, there are no known ways to prevent the disease or to stop its progression once it has begun. But research at the University of Virginia offers new understanding of how the disease develops at the molecular level, long before extensive neuronal damage occurs and symptoms show up.
Additionally, the researchers have found that an FDA-approved drug, memantine, currently used only for alleviating the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease, might be used to prevent or slow the progression of the disease if used before symptoms appear. The research also offers, based on extensive experimentation, a hypothesis as to why this might work.
The findings are published currently online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
“Based on what we’ve learned so far, it is my opinion that we will never be able to cure Alzheimer’s disease by treating patients once they become symptomatic,” said George Bloom, a UVA professor and chair of the Department of Biology, who oversaw the study in his lab. “The best hope for conquering this disease is to first recognize patients who are at risk, and begin treating them prophylactically with new drugs and perhaps lifestyle adjustments that would reduce the rate at which the silent phase of the disease progresses.
“Ideally, we would prevent it from starting in the first place.”
As Alzheimer’s disease begins, there is a lengthy period of time, perhaps a decade or longer, when brain neurons affected by the disease attempt to divide, possibly as a way to compensate for the death of neurons. This is unusual in that most neurons develop prenatally and then never divide again. But in Alzheimer’s the cells make the attempt, and then die.
“It’s been estimated that as much as 90 percent of neuron death that occurs in the Alzheimer’s brain follows this cell cycle reentry process, which is an abnormal attempt to divide,” Bloom said. “By the end of the course of the disease, the patient will have lost about 30 percent of the neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain…” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180801160022.htm

Citation:

Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop, study suggests
Date: August 1, 2018
Source: University of Virginia
Summary:
Biologists have gained new understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease begins, and how it might be halted using a current medication.
Journal Reference:
1. Erin J. Kodis, Sophie Choi, Eric Swanson, Gonzalo Ferreira, George S. Bloom. N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor–mediated calcium influx connects amyloid-β oligomers to ectopic neuronal cell cycle reentry in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2018.05.017

Here is the press release from the University of Virginia:

Study: Alzheimer’s Drug May Stop Disease if Used Before Symptoms Develop
July 31, 2018
• Fariss Samarrai, farisss@virginia.edu
About 50 percent of people who reach the age of 85 will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Most will die within about five years of exhibiting the hallmark symptoms of the disease – severe memory loss and a precipitous decline in cognitive function.
But the molecular processes that lead to the disease will have begun years earlier.
Currently, there are no known ways to prevent the disease or to stop its progression once it has begun. But research at the University of Virginia offers new understanding of how the disease develops at the molecular level, long before extensive neuronal damage occurs and symptoms show up.
Additionally, the researchers have found that an FDA-approved drug, memantine, currently used only for alleviating the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease, might be used to prevent or slow the progression of the disease if used before symptoms appear. The research also offers, based on extensive experimentation, a hypothesis as to why this might work.
The findings are published currently online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
“Based on what we’ve learned so far, it is my opinion that we will never be able to cure Alzheimer’s disease by treating patients once they become symptomatic,” said George Bloom, a UVA professor and chair of the Department of Biology, who oversaw the study in his lab. “The best hope for conquering this disease is to first recognize patients who are at risk, and begin treating them prophylactically with new drugs and perhaps lifestyle adjustments that would reduce the rate at which the silent phase of the disease progresses.
“Ideally, we would prevent it from starting in the first place.”
As Alzheimer’s disease begins, there is a lengthy period of time, perhaps a decade or longer, when brain neurons affected by the disease attempt to divide, possibly as a way to compensate for the death of neurons. This is unusual in that most neurons develop prenatally and then never divide again. But in Alzheimer’s the cells make the attempt, and then die.
“It’s been estimated that as much as 90 percent of neuron death that occurs in the Alzheimer’s brain follows this cell cycle reentry process, which is an abnormal attempt to divide,” Bloom said. “By the end of the course of the disease, the patient will have lost about 30 percent of the neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain.”
Erin Kodis, a former Ph.D. student in Bloom’s lab and now a scientific editor at AlphaBioCom, hypothesized that excess calcium entering neurons through calcium channels on their surface drive those neurons back into the cell cycle. This occurs before a chain of events that ultimately produce the plaques
The building blocks of the plaques are a protein called amyloid beta oligomers. Kodis found that when neurons are exposed to toxic amyloid oligomers, the channel, called the NMDA receptor, opens, thus allowing the calcium flow that drives neurons back into the cell cycle.
Memantine blocks cell cycle reentry by closing the NMDA receptor, Kodis found.
“The experiments suggest that memantine might have potent disease-modifying properties if it could be administered to patients long before they have become symptomatic and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” Bloom said. “Perhaps this could prevent the disease or slow its progression long enough that the average age of symptom onset could be significantly later, if it happens at all.”
Side effects of the drug appear to be infrequent and modest.
Bloom said potential patients would need to be screened for Alzheimer’s biomarkers years before symptoms appear. Selected patients then would need to be treated with memantine, possibly for life, in hopes of stopping the disease from ever developing, or further developing.
“I don’t want to raise false hopes,” Bloom said, but “if this idea of using memantine as a prophylactic pans out, it will be because we now understand that calcium is one of the agents that gets the disease started, and we may be able to stop or slow the process if done very early.”
Bloom currently is working with colleagues at the UVA School of Medicine to design a clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of using memantine as an early intervention.
MEDIA CONTACT
Fariss Samarrai
University News AssociateOffice of University Communications
farisss@virginia.edu (434) 924-3778

The U.S. faces a fiscal crisis in dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Here are 2017 Alzheimer’s Statistics
Alzheimer’s Care Costs
• In 2016, 15.9 million family caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours and $230 billion to people with dementia.
• In 2017, Alzheimer’s cost the United States $259 billion.
• By 2050, costs associated with dementia could be as much as $1.1 trillion.
• The global cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is estimated to be $605 billion, which is equivalent to 1% of the entire world’s gross domestic product.
• Aggregate Cost of Care by Payer for Americans Age 65 and Older with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias: Medicare $113 Billion, Medicaid $41 Billion, Out of Pocket $44 Billion, Other $29 Billion.
Alzheimer’s in the United States
• Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
• Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States that cannot be cured, prevented or slowed.
• 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s.
• Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s.
• There has been an 89% increase in deaths due to Alzheimer’s between 2000 and 2014.
• More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
• By 2050, it’s estimated there will be as many as 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
• Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
• 1 in 3 seniors dies with some form of dementia.
• When the first wave of baby boomers reaches age 85 (in 2031), it is projected that more than 3 million people age 85 and older will have Alzheimer’s.
• One-third of Americans over age 85 are afflicted with the illness.
• Typical life expectancy after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is 4-to-8 years.
• By 2050, there could be as many as 7 million people age 85 and older with Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for half (51%) of all people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s.
• Proportion of People With Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States by Age: 85+ years – 38%, 75-84 years, 44%, 65-74 years, 15%, <65 years, 4% https://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/

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