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Will there ever be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, or a way to prevent it?




Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Researchers around the world are working on new ways of treating Alzheimer’s. Although the medication available today cannot cure the disease, it can delay its progress, or rather stabilise it for a period of time. Drug therapies also exist that can relieve agitation, depression and psychotic symptoms (hallucinations or confusion) that may develop as the disease progresses. Sufferers are also often prescribed non-drug therapies to relieve symptoms that accompany the disease or to improve their thinking and memory. Other non-drug therapies have been developed to help patients cope better with day-to-day life and to provide support for their families.
Alzheimer’s research is exploring a number of different strategies. Many researchers are trying to develop new active ingredients that target the protein clumps present in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers and either dissolve them or prevent them from forming in the first place. However, so far their efforts have failed to significantly improve cognitive function in patients. Other experts are looking at approaches using active ingredients (e.g. anti-inflammatories) that have already been approved for treating other illnesses. Overall, there is a growing awareness that the disease has to be caught at as early a stage as possible. Treatment that starts once changes have already taken place in the brain is likely to be too late. That is why studies with new active ingredients are trying to start treatments earlier and earlier. Researchers are also working on safer and more reliable forms of early diagnosis.

Christian Leibinnes of Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V. answered this question.