Today, 5/18/2018, on the Dr. Oz show, we are introduced to the ground-breaking new drug that may actually reverse the much-dreaded disease, Alzheimer’s. Oz has had many episodes on the subject of the disease showing us how the mysterious, yet wonderfully designed, body’s parts all work together for good or for being susceptible to diseases. On today’s show, Oz brings in the best doctors in the research and field of Alzheimer’s to give us an in-depth look at the latest developments in stopping the disease in its tracks.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City explains to us how maintaining proper blood sugar levels thru diet, essential brain-boosting foods, and lifestyle changes are so important to a healthy brain and how diabetes causes Alzheimer’s. On today’s show, he demonstrates how an abundance of sugar in the bloodstream cannot be processed by the body and builds up causing inflammation to the brain. As Alzheimer’s progresses, brain cells die and connections among cells are lost, causing cognitive symptoms to worsen. While current medications cannot stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may help lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting certain chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells. Isaacson authored the book, The Alzheimer’s Diet. In recent years, there has been an explosion in research on nutritional interventions for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment, which is considered to be the most severe public health crisis of our day. These specific dietary interventions present new hope for individuals concerned about memory loss, and also have rapidly expanding scientific-evidence to support their effectiveness. Based on empirical evidence, The Alzheimer’s Diet outlines what to eat, what not to eat, and highlights a step-by-step approach for improving memory and protecting the brain through diet.
Alzheimer’s causes chronic, low-level brain cell inflammation. Researchers are studying ways to treat inflammatory processes at work in Alzheimer’s disease. For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are studying the diabetes drug pioglitazone (Actos) because it may lessen beta-amyloid and inflammation in the brain. Growing evidence suggests that brain health is closely linked to heart and blood vessel health. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s appears to increase as a result of many conditions that damage the heart or arteries. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Using MRI-based technology, scientists can now identify early physical symptoms, like plaque buildup, that may differentiate mild cognitive impairment related to early-onset Alzheimer’s from normal aging. This allows researchers to see brain dysfunction in patients before they lose tissue and nerve cells.
Many of the new treatments in development have the potential to be the first disease-altering medication for this disease. One, for example, uses immunotherapy, an antibody treatment aimed to directly attack the disease and prevent it from progressing. Another possible treatment uses antibodies to significantly reduce the level of amyloid-β, a protein found in the brains of people with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are also testing treatments that target tau protein tangles that damage and kill brain cells, as well as a receptor that decreases a neurotransmitter necessary for the brain to think and function normally. Additionally, there are medicines being designed to decrease inflammation found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients while strengthening the immune system to fight the disease. If just one of these treatments is proven effective, we can possibly delay this disease by five years, reducing the number of people affected by roughly 40 percent. Researchers anticipate that sharing these data from more than 4,000 study participants will speed development of more-effective therapies.
Dr. Heather Snyder is Senior Director, Medical & Scientific Relations, at the Alzheimer’s Association. Snyder oversees a $90 million 350-project grant program for the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association, where she has worked since 2009. The goal, she says, is to effectively prevent or treat Alzheimer’s by 2025. The disease and related care cost the United States a staggering $236 billion in 2015. One project is studying the intersection of biological changes seen in cancer and biological changes seen in Alzheimer’s, with the idea that researchers can re-purpose or use some of the experimental drugs developed for cancer. They are also working with the Department of Defense on trying to understand military-relevant risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Globally there are around 50 million people with Alzheimer’s disease, and this figure is predicted to rise to more than 125 million by 2050.
Neurologist Dr. Gayatri Devi gave us a quiz to determine if we may have common characteristics of people who develop the disease. Take the quiz to see if you could be at risk for Alzheimer’s.
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