Why Has There Not Been A Cure For Alzheimer's Disease?

Despite the fact that Alzheimer's is at the front line of new biomedical research, finding a cure or a superior treatment appears to bea troublesome undertaking. For a long time, researchers have felt that the protein, beta-amyloid, was in charge of the illness. It now turns out that scientists have found beta-amyloid proteins to be indicative of the fact that the immune systems of Alzheimer’s patients are fighting off encroaching microbes which cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore cause the plaques to occur and block proper signaling at the synapses.  Then there are Tau proteins. Tau proteins work to stabilize microtubules in neurons. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, this protein seems to become hyperphosphorylated and leads to the malfunction and eventual death of the neuron.

Current treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are based on treating the symptoms of the disease. These include medications like Aricept, Exelon, Namenda, and Namzaric, which regulate neurotransmitters and assist in the maintenance of memory and communication and certain behavioral symptoms. These medications do no stop the progression of the disease but make living with Alzheimer’s disease more manageable. Current research focuses on finding medication that will help to prevent or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Clinical research has had setback after setback while attempting to create a successful cure of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most recent medications to fizzle was Merck's Verubecestat, which was created to treat mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease in hopes to stop the progression of the disease. The pharmaceutical organization Lily was additionally directing stage 3 trials for their own Alzheimer's disease medication, Solanezumab, based on the amyloid hypothesis but have also stopped the trial for lack of efficacy.  Researchers have not given up on this hypothesis but have also looked into different methods of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. The pharmaceutical company Accera will have data available in the first quarter of 2017 about their ongoing phase three trial on an Alzheimer’s treatment that focuses on the metabolic aspect of Alzheimer’s disease.

In spite of the fact that it might appear that exploration has neglected to produce a cure for Alzheimer's, it is essential to note that with every disappointment we discover some new information about the ailment that may help us eventually discover a cure. There is a direct correlation between research funding and better treatments or cures, we see this time and time again from polio to HIV.  Alzheimer’s research consistently sees magnitudes of order less funding than cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular, as just one example.  Comparatively speaking, this disease is significantly underfunded.  As we have seen before, more funding translates into hopefully more clinical trial volunteers and more time spent researching the potential causes, whether they may be genetic or lifestyle deficiencies. With more money to fund trials, more patients can be found and more progress can be made towards a greater understanding of this illness. Currently, at least 70,000 volunteers are needed to participate in more than 150 active clinical trials and studies that are testing ways to understand, diagnose and treat, and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.