The Future of Alzheimer’s Treatment
NPR recently interviewed Joseph Jebelli, a British neuroscientist, about the future of Alzheimer’s disease. In the interview, there was an interesting discussion about the nature of Alzheimer’s disease, its onset, and what the future of treatment looks like.
Dr. Jebelli discusses the aging brain and the tendency for our brains to decrease in size in between the ages of 50 and 80 years old. Decreasing brain size is not due to a loss in brain cells, but rather that these cells are shrinking. As a result, our brains begin to work more slowly and we tend to be a little bit more forgetful. Forgetfulness is, thus, a normal part of aging. But there are differences between forgetfulness in old age and forgetfulness as a result of Alzheimer’s.
The difference lies within the degree of forgetfulness. There is a difference between forgetting where you leave your wallet and forgetting what a wallet is for, according to Dr. Jebelli. Signs of forgetfulness in Alzheimer’s are lot more pernicious, insidious, and debilitating. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include these symptoms of forgetfulness, as well as confusion. You might notice your loved one forgetting to do everyday things like paying the bills, feeding their animals, etc. Many times, these symptoms can look a lot like normal signs of aging in the early stages. So, it is important to go and see a doctor if you suspect anything unusual. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Current treatments of Alzheimer’s include certain medications, but these medications are not long-term solutions. According to Dr. Jebelli, they are better than nothing, but many of these medicines need updating. Currently research is being done on sleep and its impacts on Alzheimer’s. Since sleep rejuvenates our body and literally cleans our brain of toxins, there may be a crucial link between sleep and Alzheimer’s prevention. Lastly, Dr. Jebelli delves into the topic of neural stem cell research. He tells NPR that there may be certain parts of the brain that are responsible for creating new neurons. He says that if researchers are able to isolate what parts of the brain are responsible for regenerating neurons that they can develop medicines to activate these regions of the brain. Essentially, researchers want to figure out a way to allow the brain to heal itself.
Dr. Jebelli believes that in ten years, there should be significant advancements in neuroscience that will usher in more effective treatments of neurological degenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s.
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 Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/01/02/575055148/neuroscientist-predicts-much-better-treatment-for-alzheimers-is-10-years-away