Learning More About Alzheimer’s

By Jacob Will, VP of Health Services

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, has long been a daunting challenge for both those diagnosed and the medical community. However, recent years have witnessed significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the disease and new treatments. Being a board member of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, I wanted to share with you some knowledge on
these new treatments.

For decades, the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain has been a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease. All previous medications could only treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. New treatments aim to target and clear these abnormal protein deposits of beta amyloid. These treatments
work by binding to amyloid plaques and facilitating their removal, potentially slowing down the progression of the disease.

Two such treatments have progressed through Phase 3 trials: Leqembi and Donanemab. Leqembi has already gained FDA approval, and Donanemab has applied for such status. Both
treatments are similar in their attack of beta amyloid and have been shown to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s for around six months.

Early diagnosis remains crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of these treatments. Improved diagnostic tools and increased awareness of Alzheimer’s disease can help identify cases in their early stages, when interventions are more likely to be effective. Specific blood tests to identify high traces of beta amyloid are in clinical trials as well. Developing a simple blood test to find biomarkers for Alzheimer’s would
drastically cut down the cost and time associated with confirming a diagnosis.

The Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the largest in the country coming in 6th for funds raised. These donations allow the Alzheimer’s Association to provide 24/7 care and support and advance research toward methods of prevention, treatment, and, hopefully, a cure.

It is important to know that these treatments have been shown to slow progress but not stop it. There is not a cure yet. If you have specific questions about the blood tests, treatments or clinical trials, please contact your primary care physician. In addition, you can research this topic and more
on the Alzheimer’s Association website at www.alz.org. Finally, there is an Alzheimer’s Association Support Group that meets on the Trinity Woods campus. They meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 3 p.m. in the Crestwood 3rd floor meeting room. No reservation is needed, and all are welcome.

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