WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The number of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer's disease could triple within the next 40 years if no progress is made against the disease, new projections show.
Reporting in the Feb. 6 online issue of the journal Neurology, researchers say that by 2050, nearly 14 million Americans could have Alzheimer's -- the most common form of dementia. That's close to triple the prevalence in 2010, when an estimated 4.7 million U.S. adults had the memory-robbing disease.
The new prediction is an update of a report published a decade ago -- which also projected a near-tripling in Alzheimer's disease in the next few decades.
So, not much has changed. "This is where we're headed if we don't make any progress in Alzheimer's research," said researcher Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago.
Unfortunately, she added, research into treating and delaying the disease has so far been "frustrating."
There are several drugs approved in the United States for slowing memory loss and other Alzheimer's symptoms -- brands like Aricept and Namenda. The medications work by affecting chemical messengers in the brain. But for many people, they either do not help or only work for a limited time.
Then there are the experimental "anti-amyloid" drugs, which target a protein that builds up and forms so-called plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. But in studies so far, the medications have failed to help when given to people who already have moderate dementia symptoms.
Now, the hope is that they might work if given earlier in the game.
Research in the next several years could be pivotal, said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a psychiatry professor at Duke University Medical Center and an author of the book "The Alzheimer's Action Plan."
Three major clinical trials are starting this
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