About 5.5 million Americans currently have some stage of Alzheimer’s disease. While there are currently a number of drugs being tested in the fight against Alzheimer’s, some researchers have started to wonder if perhaps we’ve been trying to treat the disease at the wrong time. Usually, Alzheimer’s treatment is only started once symptoms are already present in a patient. One new theory is that we need to start looking at ways to treat people before we even know they have the disease.
We already know that the beta-amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients begin to form several years before a person ever shows any symptoms. Because of this fact, some researchers want to start treating people who are most at risk for Alzheimer’s disease years before they show symptoms, in an attempt to prevent the disease from ever forming. There are currently 5 clinical trials being run to test this theory.
Most researchers still do believe that the growth of the beta-amyloid proteins can be reversed in Alzheimer’s patients, but they say we just haven’t found the right drug for the job yet. It has been suggested that perhaps we have been looking at attacking the proteins too narrowly and need to approach the problem differently. In either case, the search for treatment and eventually a cure continues.