A year ago it seemed there were very few studies on dementia/Alzheimer’s that had any positive new twists to the scary old tale of the destruction of brain cells. Finally there seems to a bandwagon of smaller studies that may be breathing some life into a real race for a cure. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top ten leading causes of death that has been without a definitive treatment. Medications that have been developed have proven to only stall off what is still seen as inevitable.
Maybe race is not the right image , I think of it that those of us over 65, are trying to keep ourselves out the shadow of what will someday be thought of as dark ages before real interventions are found. We try to eat right, exercise, challenge our brains and keep social. But how far are we from a definitive treatment, 5 years-10 years or more? As someone said of the new immune therapies that are targeting and curing some specific cancers , future solutions will make the current standard treatment (chemotherapy) look medieval.
I guess because the population demographic is starting to swell with those just past 70… the time is now. If funding and creative scientific thought merge then so be it …anything that helps those already afflicted and can help prevent is a worthy endeavor. But some of these studies are confusing in their outcomes.
One study that shows the challenges of the puzzle, is on exercise and better memory. Reading it can be confusing as they are saying the same protein that is produced when you exercise that improves memory is also found in the plague of Alzheimer’s. Read here: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/23/483245084/a-protein-that-moves-from-muscle-to-brain-may-tie-exercise-to-memory . Moral you can’t just add an artificial protein, you have to work for it or rather workout for it. At least they started with mice and went to people subjects.
Another study that will bring a grin to a few faces out there is that THC – the active ingredient in marijuana has been found to dissolve the amyloid beta plaque on neurons in a lab. NO mice or men just petri dishes. Read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tara-pattilachan/how-marijuana-can-potenti_b_10740324.html
But before considering self medication understand that there are also studies that show long term use of marijuana causes cognition problems .
We have to be careful that we don’t just sit on the sidelines to watch this race and hope for the creation of the secret sauce to pour into our aging brains. Don’t stop doing the good stuff regarding eating and exercise et al. This may end up being our own individual challenge to win or lose.