Although a new surge of scientific research has uncovered telltale signs of Alzheimer's disease that show up in brain scans and spinal taps, many questions remain unanswered about the clinical value of early testing and the overall direction of patient care, according to Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik, Harriman Professor of Neuroscience Research at the University of California and co-director of UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute.
Kosik, also formerly a longtime neurologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital memory clinic in Boston, cautioned that such "biomarker" tests for Alzheimer's do not address the most devastating issues presented by the disease. Indeed, he said, without substantial reforms in the treatment of Alzheimer's, the advent of early testing may only increase the anxiety of patients and their families.
"Suppose you test positive, then what?" Kosik said in a recent interview. "The test doesn't tell you when you might be likely to get the disease, for example. Patients and families will inevitably have many questions about what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the medical system is not set up to answer them."
In his new book, THE ALZHEIMER'S SOLUTION: HOW TODAY'S CARE IS FAILING MILLIONSAND HOW WE CAN DO BETTER (Prometheus Books, $19) Kosik and co-author Ellen Clegg, a former journalist and science communication specialist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, provide a bold vision for reforming Alzheimer's disease treatment, and outline an array of simple preventive measures that patients can take to delay the onset of symptoms.
The average time from diagnosis to death in patients with Alzheimer's disease is ten years, Kosik said, a time when interest in the patient's welfare by the medical establishment wanes rapidly. Patients and their families are left in a desperate search for information about treatment, experimental leads and clinical trials, and basic support.
While recent news reports have
|Contact: Jill Maxick|