Alzheimer’s Disease

False hopes and real risks with Alzheimer’s ‘treatments’

“What do I have to lose?” I hear this question regularly from patients who want to try the latest “breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research featured on television or YouTube.  These are typically things that either have been tested in animals with no human studies or things that have been tested haphazardly in small numbers of patients and then vigorously hyped. For example, curcumin is a component of curry that has been tested in animals, with a … Read More

Is ‘tau’ the new front line in the Alzheimer’s fight?

Patients and their family members have been bringing me clippings from that famous medical journal, “The Wall Street Journal,” asking me if it’s true that Alzheimer’s research is now focused on something called “tau.” As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the leading hypothesis until very recently was that “amyloid,” the stuff in the brain plaques in Alzheimer’s, was the cause of the disease due to toxic effects on brain cells. I also noted … Read More

New test that predicts Alzheimer’s?

What if we could predict who would one day go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease? There is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurologists and others who specialize in treating dementia are very accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease once symptoms have begun. Memory or other thinking problems and performance on different kinds of cognitive tests give a good indication of whether someone has dementia or another condition that can cause memory problems. Once a diagnosis … Read More

How do we measure success in treating Alzheimer’s?

My first couple of blog posts were focused on directions in research on Alzheimer’s disease. So this time I’d like to turn to the routine clinical care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. As the Affordable Care Act takes effect in the next few years, there will be an increased emphasis on outcomes rather than procedures. This makes good sense, but it remains to be seen how this idea is going to be … Read More

The challenge of testing new Alzheimer’s drugs

We Alzheimer’s disease specialists get a lot of free advice. One of the most common recommendations is that we should work on a way to prevent Alzheimer’s in healthy people rather than try to fix people who already have brain damage. As I pointed out in my last blog post, all of our latest research results also point toward prevention as a more plausible goal, and our free advisors ask us: What took you so … Read More

Amyloid fighting — is it the wrong Alzheimer’s fight?

A few months ago, experts were talking about the next generation of “disease-modifying” drugs that were expected to help treat Alzheimer’s disease by attacking amyloid plaque in the brain. In fact, they were arguing that any newly written treatment guidelines were likely to be quickly outdated by the advent of new, powerful drugs. Drug companies were also optimistic, developing all kinds of “anti-amyloid” drugs that were expected to fundamentally alter the course of the disease. “Amyloid” … Read More

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