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Novel Approach to Alzheimer’s May Hold Key to Early Treatment

As the population ages, more people are living with Alzheimer’s than ever before. In fact, an estimated 5 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to increase as baby boomers reach their 80’s. The cost of caring for these individuals is growing rapidly as well, with Medicare spending alone predicted to reach $1 trillion by 2020.

While most cases of Alzheimer’s are diagnosed after age 65, symptoms can start years earlier. Early diagnosis can help people prepare for long-term care needs and start treatment sooner so they aren’t reliant on others for basic activities like bathing or eating.

Unfortunately, as of right now, there’s no way to prevent Alzheimer’s — no cure exists yet — but there may be hope on the way for more effective treatments.

Alzheimer’s Disease Impacts Individuals, Families and Society

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, leading to memory loss and cognitive impairment that typically becomes severe enough for patients to require long-term care or to live with family members who can care for them.

Alzheimer’s symptoms include memory loss, difficulty with language, problems with problem solving and abstract thinking, problems with attention and concentration and planning and organizing. The disease progresses slowly at first but the symptoms become more severe over time.

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is short-term memory loss — forgetting what you were doing or where you were going just a few minutes ago. As the disease progresses, people may also have trouble remembering recent events or conversations; they may seem disoriented in familiar places; they may get lost while driving; they may experience mood swings; they may even talk to imaginary people (known as “sundowning”).

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease that can lead to financial, social and physical setbacks to both sufferers and their families. The disease also has an incalculable mental toll on those who experience it firsthand.

Traditional Treatments for Alzheimer’s are Lacking

Traditional treatments for Alzheimer’s are seriously lacking in their ability to slow the disease, and they often have serious side effects. They’re also expensive.

The main problem with current drugs is that they don’t work until it’s too late for many people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD); until recently, there weren’t any drugs that could reverse this process or even slow it down significantly. However, hope may be on the horizon for people with early Alzheimer’s.

Anavex Life Sciences Offers Hope for People Living With Alzheimer’s

Anavex Life Sciences Corporation recently announced promising results for its new drug, ANAVEX®2-73 (Blarcamesine). This oral medication for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease is a readily absorbed small molecule that acts as a sigma-1 receptor (SIGMAR1) activator, believed to stabilize neurons and restore the plasticity of the brain. Researchers believe that activating the SIGMAR1 receptor activates a process called autophagy, in which cells break down and recycle defective proteins.

Blarcamesine achieved significant, visible improvements in patients in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The medication had its greatest effect in patients with the mildest cognitive impairment, measured by the 30-question MMSE. Volunteers who received the drug for 48 weeks showed increased capability for performing tasks of daily living, as well as improved memory and decision-making ability. Better yet, there were very few side effects reported.

The future is beginning to look more bright for people suffering from Alzheimers. Although further research is underway, it’s possible that in the near future, treatments such as ANAVEX2-73 may allow people living with Alzheimer’s to live independently for even longer.