Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment – The Future is Bright
True Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Real, disease-modifying medication. It’s just around the corner. There is a world full of the humankind’s brightest minds searching for help for Alzheimer’s. An example is the work ongoing on a damaging brain protein in Alzheimer’s called cis p-tau. It not just the tau protein that’s been examined for decades, This one is a specific finding. It’s a damaged and toxic-to-brain tau protein. Neurons start to make cis p-tau, it damages brain circuits and spreads to other nerve cells, and eventually the cis p-tau kills the cells. There’s a link to a Science Translational Medicine article about cis p-tau under Helpful Links at the bottom of the page.
We’ll Get To Treatment in a Moment – First a Word About Prevention
What would you do if you thought that you really might get Alzheimer’s some day? It’s a frightening situation that there’s no medication that prevents Alzheimer’s. We admit up front that how well changes in behaviors work to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s is not known with rock solid certainty. But now that we’ve honestly admitted that, there are many good reasons to believe that Alzheimer’s prevention is greatly worth pursuing. For Alzheimer’s prevention one has to start early, even start when you’re young, and you might have a good chance to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Preventing Alzheimer’s – Yes, Seriously
We are serious here about prevention. This isn’t the old diet and exercise rant. It’s sound medical information. Here are four major things you can do to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. (1) Eat a healthy diet. (2) Keep up a solid and steady physical exercise program. (3) Brush and floss your teeth twice a day. (4) Get a good night’s sleep every night. These will make you healthy in general and keep your heart strong, and likely will keep Alzheimer’s away for a while, and maybe forever. If you’re surprised about the brush-and-floss part, see our page on doing regular, quality dental hygiene. And, if the sleep part is new to you, see our page on Alzheimer’s Toxins Cleared by Deep Sleep (this page is available to paid subscribers only.) Okay, back to our topic, Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
A Reader Asks:
What about that new Alzheimer’s drug the FDA just approved?
The FDA Approval of aducanumab Is a Huge Controversy
On June 7, 2021, the FDA approved aducanumab (Aduhelm™) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Whether this newly-approved medication will prove to be a large benefit to people with Alzheimer’s disease is unknown and much of what you hear on the popular media news is confusing, conflicting, and of little help. To sort out the real news that you can rely on from the media hype takes time and careful following. Even the FDA can make mistakes, which is awful, but true.
What The FDA Says in their Official Prescribing Information
In their official Prescribing Information, the FDA says:
“ADUHELM is an amyloid beta-directed antibody indicated for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on reduction in amyloid beta plaques observed in patients treated with ADUHELM. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s).“
The FDA did not approve aducanumab because it helped Alzheimer’s disease at all. It didn’t look at whether it made any difference for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA approved it because it removed toxic proteins from the brain, that is, beta amyloid plaques. But other proposed medications have worked to clear these same toxins from the brain and were not approved because they did not help the actual Alzheimer’s disease.
The FDA Sort Of Approved aducanumab And Is Waiting to See
When the FDA says Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s), it means that the FDA is waiting to see if aducanumab actually helps people with Alzheimer’s or not. If it helps people, the FDA will leave it approved. If it doesn’t help people, the FDA might withdraw its approval. So the answer for right now is that no one knows whether aducanumab will help.
Starting at the Conclusion for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment
For treating Alzheimer’s with the medicines we now have, most people seem to take donepezil (Aricept® and Aricept ODT® [orally disintegrating tablet]) and memantine (Namenda®). There’s also a once-daily oral capsule, Namzaric®, that contains both donepezil and memantine. It comes in four dosage strengths: 7 mg/10 mg (7 mg of memantine and 10 mg of donepezil), 14 mg/10 mg, 21 mg/10 mg, and 28 mg/10 mg. Namzaric® also seems to be a favorite among people with Alzheimer’s. Many people also like galantamine (Razadyne ER®).
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment – The French Government Won’t Pay
There are those who question the full-on effectiveness of today’s medications for Alzheimer’s. In August 2018, acting on a May 2018 decree from the French Minister of Health, the French government removed these standard medicines used to treat Alzheimer’s (donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine, and memantine) from their list of medications for which they will pay. The government acted on advice from the High Authority for Health in 2016 and 2018, which said that there was “insufficient medical benefit [from these drugs] and dangerousness because of significant side effects”.
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment – The Good and The Better
Beyond what “most people take”, that is, what’s popular, the real question is, “What helps?” What really works? Doctors and Alzheimer’s scientists often disagree, and discuss this question endlessly. What abnormal chemistry in the brain really is the cause of Alzheimer’s? Doctors have been looking for over 30 years for a good medication to really help people with Alzheimer’s. But, there’s been no impressive success yet. That’s really upsetting to everyone, and even more so to people who actually have Alzheimer’s.
First Things First, That Is, Is There Anything That Make Alzheimer’s “Better”?
Well, sort of yes and sort of no
The “yes” is not the real yes that you want to hear. We don’t have a medicine that can stop Alzheimer’s. The “yes” has to do with medications and changes in behavior that can slow it down. The medications listed above, donepezil, memantine, and galantamine, are good, and the best we have for now. There are others in this same family of medications that are FDA approved for Alzheimer’s and that work just as well. They do slow Alzheimer’s progress for a while. And, that’s worth something.
The Search for a Cure or Great Treatment Continues
As we said above, the frantic search for really effective medications to treat Alzheimer’s continues. Hundreds of billions of dollars (yes, that is billions with a “B”) have been spent to find something better to work for Alzheimer’s, and more is spent every day. Everyone wants desperately to find something to truly stop or cure Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s researchers all over the world don’t have the answer yet but are getting close. And, they will find it. All of us want a medication or treatment that stops brain deterioration, or, even better, that reverses the brain’s changes. Something to promote the growth of new brain nerve cells, new neurons. Something to get someone’s life back to normal the way it was before the Alzheimer’s.
So, What Are Today’s Medications?
Here is a link to a full and accurate list. It’s a page posted by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging on How Is Alzheimer’s Treated? As you move down the page you’ll see two tables that are really part 1 and part 2 of the same table. The top table gives the name of each medication, what type of medication it is, how it works, and common side effects.
The 2nd half of the table gives, further down the page, gives for the same medicines the manufacturer’s recommended dose and hot links for more information.
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment – More Medicine Advice on the NIH Site
Further down on the above Institute on Aging webpage are descriptions of medications for specific medical conditions that often come along with Alzheimer’s. Also medications for troublesome behaviors that show up when someone has more severe Alzheimer’s.
Lists of medications “to be used with caution” are even further down the page. These are medications for specific Alzheimer’s effects but are medications that might create one problem while solving another.
It’s Not Because the World’s Researchers Aren’t Trying
Universities and pharma companies have spent hundreds of billions of dollars looking for a better treatment for Alzheimer’s. And no one is stopping. All these groups will spend hundreds of billions more in the next several years.
Kondo, A., K. Shahpasand, R. Mannix, J. Qiu, J. Moncaster, C. Chen, Y. Yao, et al. 2015. “cis p-tau: early driver of brain injury and tauopathy blocked by antibody.” Nature 523 (7561): 431-436. doi:10.1038/nature14658. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14658.
Science Translational Medicine article on Cis P-tau
Nature article on cis p-tau
Alzheimer’s Association on Treatments
The NIH’s National Institute on Aging on How Is Alzheimer’s Treated?
The Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s Disease