The impact of Alzheimer’s disease is absolutely devastating. It wipes away people’s memories and causes great pain for those who watch their loved ones slip away. Improving treatment remains a top priority.
While there’ve been advances in treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s, finding a cure or a way to slow this neuro-degenerative disease has proven elusive. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, that’s why a new study was done to see if a specific anti-inflammatory drug can help prevent Alzheimer’s.
“We know that where we see the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain has a lot of inflammatory changes around it.” As Director of Geisinger’s Memory and Cognition Program, Dr. Glen Finney is familiar with studies done on whether non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Think aspirin and ibuprofen. Dr. Finney said, “And we tried a lot of different drugs in that class to reduce inflammation, also, perhaps, to reduce amyloid — one of the main proteins in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr. Finney was part of a clinical trial several years ago to measure the impact of NSAID’s on Alzheimer’s prevention. “All of them failed,” he said. But this time McGill University in Canada specifically studied if the anti-inflammatory medication naproxen can prevent Alzheimer’s in people with a strong family history of the disease. The results? “Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that it did not show benefit,” said Dr. Finney.
By ruling out this potential treatment, attention turns to other possibilities. Dr. Finney, who is also a board member of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, will oversee a clinical trial this year. It will study a variation of a drug currently used for patients with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and how it might help Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Finney said, “We need to look in new places, new horizons, out-of-the-box thinking.”
Dr. Finney says the clinical trial on whether medication for ALS can help Alzheimer’s patients will begin in a few months at Geisinger’s Memory and Cognition Program. In the meantime, it’s critical to manage what’s in your control to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Experts recommend getting regular exercise, eating plenty of fruits and veggies, controlling your blood pressure, and staying mentally and socially active.