Finally, a Medication for Alzheimer's Disease?
While the current available treatments for Alzheimer's disease mainly address its symptoms, an American laboratory is on the verge of releasing a drug that can potentially slow down the progression of the disease.
It's worth recalling that in the face of Alzheimer's disease, the primary neurodegenerative condition affecting 72% of nursing home residents and accounting for 225,000 new cases each year, medications have generally proven ineffective.
The first medication for Alzheimer's disease could soon be available on the American market if it clears the final stages of approval. Indeed, the American laboratory Biogen, which developed aducanumab, has submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. health agency. "If approved by the FDA, aducanumab would be the first treatment capable of significantly altering the course of Alzheimer's disease," stated the American laboratory Biogen in a press release dated July 8, 2020 (source: Sciences et Avenir). It would take approximately a year to receive a final decision from the FDA, meaning that the drug could finally appear on the market in 2021.
Among the various treatment avenues explored, immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease has already yielded promising results. Biogen's aducanumab reignites the debate on Alzheimer's disease treatment through immunotherapy. Aducanumab is a monoclonal antibody designed to reduce the accumulation of Beta-Amyloid aggregates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, thereby slowing neurodegeneration and disease progression.
Alzheimer's disease is characterized by two physiological features in the brain: the presence of senile plaques and neurofibrillary degeneration. While certain risk factors have been identified, there is currently no specific cause known to trigger these mechanisms associated with the disease. Senile plaques primarily consist of an amyloid peptide, which is normally present in the body but tends to aggregate and intertwine into senile plaques in the brain of individuals with the disease, continuously increasing. Neurofibrillary degenerations, on the other hand, are tangles of fibrils located inside neurons.
After several clinical trials and a reevaluation of initial results through a broader analysis, it has been noted that patients receiving a high dose of aducanumab exhibited a 23% reduction in their rate of decline.
It is important to note, however, that these results pertain to patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
These results offer real hope for Alzheimer's disease research and treatment.
The most characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
- Memory loss, primarily affecting recently learned information, differentiating this symptom from simple forgetfulness, which can be related to age.
- Difficulty concentrating, following a plan, or using familiar recipes.
- Challenges with everyday tasks, both at home and work. Alzheimer's patients may forget familiar driving routes, among other things.
- Confusion regarding time and place, where dates, periods, and seasons become abstract concepts. Patients may also become disoriented about their location.
- Vision problems, including difficulty reading, distinguishing colors or contrasts, and evaluating distances. Some patients may not recognize themselves in the mirror and may think someone else is in the room.
- Difficulty with verbal expression, such as struggling to find words, using one word for another, and experiencing difficulty joining a conversation or maintaining coherent thoughts.
- Decline in organizational skills, leading to unusual placement of objects and an inability to retrace steps to find them. It may even involve accusations of theft by others.
- Impaired judgment, especially concerning financial matters. Alzheimer's patients may lose their ability to assess necessary expenses and may give large sums of money to telemarketers. They may also become less attentive to personal hygiene.
- Decreased social activity and an inability to identify favorite pastimes.
- Changes in mood and personality, which can manifest as anxiety, depression, introversion, or, conversely, increased extroversion compared to previous behavior.
Some signs of aging may resemble the symptoms mentioned above but are usually sporadic and milder. If in doubt, it is imperative to consult a doctor who can decide to conduct specific tests to establish a precise diagnosis.
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