Ten percent of Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s. That means that over 5.5 million older Americans are battling this debilitating disease that can eventually make people unable to recognize even their closest loved ones. Another estimated 200,000 people under the age of 65 are fighting early-onset Alzheimer’s. The good news is that some exciting developments are underway in the study of this disease.
Scientists understand that the brain’s immune system works differently than the immune system of the rest of the body. They also know that this system is slower to react in seniors. Scientists have promising results when they give seniors monoclonal-antibody infusions to attack the plaque that builds up in their brains. Removing plaque is something the immune system would have taken care of when they were younger. While tests with an injectable form of this treatment had to be stopped in 2002, using an infusion seems to be holding out promise.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main component of the cannabis plant. While there is no indication as of yet that THC will cure Alzheimer’s, there is some evidence that THC may slow down the progression of the disease. While the researchers initially tried to use THC for reducing the amyloid-beta protein that causes plaque buildup in the brain, they discovered that eliminating those proteins produces many adverse results. Instead, researchers are now experiencing limited success with using THC to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation in the brain, which may help slow down the disease.
Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City suggests that insulin and other drugs for diabetes may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s. The research shows that changes in RNA markers that are usually present in Alzheimer’s patients were only present 25 percent of the time for those who took insulin. That discovery is exciting because it opens up new pathways for research into how Alzheimer’s affects the brain instead of all the focus being on plaque buildup in the brain.
Researchers at Cambridge University discovered a significant amount of people who consumed fish oil regularly showed fewer signs of Alzheimer’s. Specifically, those taking a supplement containing macular carotenoids, lutein, meso-zeaxanthin, and zeaxanthin had slower progression in their disease compared to those receiving carotenoids alone. The researchers were surprised by their findings, and Cambridge University has funded more research into this exciting development. Alzheimer’s disease research is now being approached from many new directions, giving the world renewed hope for effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
What Continues the Same
While there are a multitude of exciting advancements in the fight against Alzheimer’s, somethings will continue to stay the same. For example, there will still be a continued push for people at risk for Alzheimer’s to stimulate their brain, as well as take up regular exercise. It is also still recommended that people skip smoking and cut back on any heavy drinking. While most of the people in the United States have cut back on smoking, there is still a significant number of people who drink. In fact, about 86.4 percents of Americans who are 18 years or older have reported that they drank at some point in their lifetime. This easily turns into a dependency for a lot of people, especially if they use alcohol to “self-medicate” or due to peer pressure. While there may be exciting advances going on, it never hurts to be cautious with your health.
These developments are doing amazing things to help those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and they are providing hope for those who have loved ones who are experiencing a decline. As science continues to advance, hopefully, Alzheimer’s will decrease.
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