An estimated 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer Disease (AD.) Fifty million people worldwide are living with dementia. Yet despite billions of dollars in research, a cure has not been found. The impact of AD on the quality of life of these patients and their caregivers is profound.
You or your loved one may qualify for one of our clinical trials to treat Alzheimer disease. As part of your screening, you receive a FREE evaluation, by experienced professionals, who will help you understand your condition, and whether or not you qualify for a trial.
Until recently, Alzheimer Disease could only be diagnosed after death. It required the brain tissue accumulation of amyloid plaques (composed of misfolded proteins outside nerve cells) and neurofibrillary tangles (composed of another misfolded protein inside nerve cells). ?
Now, modern brain scans can show abnormalities of the brains of living patients. MRI scans, for instance, can show the structure of the brain. And PET scans can show which parts of the brain are living, and which parts are accumulating amyloid protein and tau protein.
Criteria for diagnosing AD and other dementias in the clinic and with neuropsychological testing, has tried to keep up with the advances in scanning. But a recent study showed that over 30% of people diagnosed by an experienced Neurologist with Alzheimer Disease, don’t actually have amyloid accumulation in their brain on PET scanning.
This is a disturbing finding, since amyloid accumulation is one of the two critical components for the accurate diagnosis of AD. Tau accumulation is also critical for the accurate diagnosis of AD. But the accumulation of neither protein is sufficient to cause AD. This may be why trials of anti-amyloid therapies, for instance, have failed so far.
To make it even more complicated, another recent study showed even though amyloid and tau accumulation can occur in the brain, they don’t always cause AD or other types of dementia. So clinical tests of brain function, like the MMSE, MOCA, SLUMS, and SAGE, as well as neuro-psychological evaluation, are critical in picking patients for clinical trials.
One of the newer trials for a drug to treat AD involves the prevention of tau accumulation in nerve cells, and we at the RNI are a part of this trial. Ultimately, the accumulation of tau may not be the only mechanism involved in AD progression, but it most certainly is an important part of the process.
Which patients to include in such a study, and which ones have brain deterioration caused by other factors (like vascular causes, sleep disorders, infection, dietary deficiencies, depression, and other factors) is sometimes a difficult process.
Our professionals at the RNI have participated in many treatment trials for AD over the years. We know that treatment with already approved drug therapies, like donepezil and memantine, to modify brain transmitters, can help. But what we need is a cure for the disease process itself, and we need to know what causes it in the first place.
We believe breakthroughs in the treatment of AD are just around the corner! So we continue to do basic and clinical research in this devastating disorder, in cooperation with other Neurologists in the Kansas City region and nationally, so that patients with AD and other dementias will be able to improve the quality of their lives, and the lives of their caregivers.