Much earlier diagnosis and treatment
For atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") or high blood pressure, we expect nothing less than treatment at the earliest possible stage in order to prevent further problems. We advise these people to stop smoking, eat more healthy food, exercise more and we give them statins or beta-blockers. All in order to prevent them from suffering a heart attack or a stroke. According to Selkoe, we need to adopt the same strategy in order to be successful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: to act when the neurodegeneration has only just started. Perhaps we should switch from talking about "treatment" to talking about "prevention". Just as we currently use statins and beta-blockers to prevent a heart attack or stroke. We should treat neurodegeneration in the same manner in order to prevent loss of memory and other cognitive problems.
"We have the diagnostic instruments available for this", according to Selkoe. "Using biochemical tests, we can detect the early phases of neurodegeneration specific to Alzheimer's disease in the cerebrospinal fluid. This can also be done using a PET scan of the brain. These changes can be detected years possibly even decades before the first functional limitations occur."
"This paradigm shift necessitates a thorough revision of the clinical research into Alzheimer's disease", according to Dennis J. Selkoe. "Although it will require significant efforts, prevention studies into Alzheimer's Disease are possible. Provided the studies are set up correctly and the patient population is chosen correctly. For example, by including people with a high genetic risk of the condition who are still in the pre-clinical phase."
Unfortunately, according to Selkoe, there is no new therapy on the immediate horizon for the current generation of Alzheimer's patients. But we have an obligation to continue the search. The obligation to
|Contact: Kris Van der Beken|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)