Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five New Trials Target Alzheimer’s Disease

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Nancy Wurtzel
TIME magazine talked about some new research trials focusing on Alzheimer’s disease.  Intrigued, I visited their website to learn more.  You can read a very brief overview of each trial by going to the TIME website and reading, “5 Groundbreaking Trials are Testing Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s.”
The headline is what caught my attention.  I love the words ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘prevent’ — especially when they are used in connection with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
However, after reading about the research being conducted, I’m wasn’t sure I would use those two exact words.
Here’s the reason: Most of the trials detailed in the article will focus on amyloid, that nasty protein that builds up in the brain and causes a domino affect, eventually ravaging a person’s cognitive function.
As you probably know, Alzheimer’s researchers have been focusing on amyloid for many years but without success.
Among the scientific community, there isn’t even a consensus on whether amyloid is the root cause of the disease.  Many experts now believe it amyloid is only the by-product.
Even so, we have to keep the complicated wheels of research moving.  Why?  One or more of these research trials may result in some type of unexpected breakthrough.  Or, a combination of these studies could show definitively (and finally) that amyloid isn’t the culprit.  Ruling out one avenue of research leads to more doors opening.  We need to keep opening those doors.
The wheels of research move slowly, but at least they are moving.
When I picture the ‘Aha Alzheimer’s Research Moment,’ I see it happening accidentally.  A technician toiling away in a nondescript lab will accidentally stumble upon what proves to be a major development.  It’s happened before.  Many important medical discoveries have been revealed through a research misstep or purely by chance.
Wouldn’t that be incredible?

In the meantime, my message to the Alzheimer’s researchers, “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to this cause.  You are heroes for fighting this terrible disease, and may you stumble upon an actual breakthrough real soon.”


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