British scientists are pioneering use of emission tomography (PET) scans, which use radioactive tracers to search for clumps of the proteins, amyloid and tau, responsible for Alzheimer’s and known to appear in the brain years before the onset of dementia. It is thought that these proteins build up 10-15 years prior to the appearance of symptoms. New optimism is springing from this early warning scan combined now drug trials, raising hopes that a therapy enabling people to live symptom-free with the disease will be developed. That would be tantamount to preventing it and allowing people to age without cognitive impairment.
While earlier Alzheimer’s research focussed mainly on later stages of the disease, efforts are now being concentrated on finding a drug to prevent its effects. The BBC Two’s Horizon explores progress in grasping an illness expected to afflict a million Brits by 2025 and reports incredible improvements with the use of Aducanumab, a drug that reduces amyloid build-up. The chief medical officer at Biogen, the drug’s manufacturer, considers that if treatment is administered early enough, Alzheimer’s may be staved off altogether. Alzheimer’s Research UK points out the need for increased investment to fund research and the Alzheimer’s Society foresees significant change in managing dementia as new treatments and technologies are developed.
Photo : http://www.berkeley.edu/news2/2012/01/amyloid420.jpg