In this blog post, we take a look at the latest happenings around Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and is a leading cause of dementia in the aging population. The continuous decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills, as a result of the disease, disrupts a person’s ability to function independently. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from severe loss of brain function — such as dehydration, malnutrition, or infection — result in death.

Alzheimer’s associated dementia is diagnosed by conducting memory-related tests to assess impairment, judge functional abilities of the patient, and identify behavioral changes. Doctors also perform a series of tests to rule out other possible causes of impairment. Current treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are focused on temporarily improving symptoms or slowing the rate of decline. They help patients manage the symptoms better by maximizing their ability to function and delaying the progression of the condition. 

Research studies have identified several targets and risk factors including the β amyloid peptide, beta-secretases, tau protein and apolipoprotein E (APOE)  giving hope to better management of the disease. Some of the latest happenings around diagnosis and therapy are captured in this blog.

FDA Approves First Drug to Image Tau Pathology in Alzheimer’s Patients

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tauvid (flortaucipir F18), the first drug used to help image a distinctive characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain called tau pathology. The drug is a radioactive diagnostic agent for adult patients and has to be delivered via intravenous injection. To read more, click here.

Nilotinib Clears Phase II Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s

Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center who are investigating the cancer drug nilotinib in people with Alzheimer’s have found that it is safe and well-tolerated. The drug appears to reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain based on earlier research. The positive results from the Phase II trials will need to be further confirmed for efficacy in Phase III trials. To read more, click here.

APOE4 Alzheimer Gene Variant Associated with High Risk of COVID-19 infection

Researchers at Exeter University cross-referenced genetic and health data on the APOE4 gene, implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, with a list of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 during the months of March and April. The analysis suggested a higher risk of severe infection in people who possessed the APOE4 homozygous genotype. To read more, click here.

Design of a New Antibody that can Detect Amyloidß Oligomers

A collaboration between researchers at Cambridge University, Lund University, and University College London resulted in the development of a conformation-specific antibody that can accurately quantify amyloidß oligomers implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The methods involved in the design strategy include antigen scanning and epitope mining. To read more, click here.

New Imaging Tool Helps Visualise Early Brain Damage in Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers at Yale University used PET imaging of a protein to identify early synaptic damage in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They posited that these images could serve as a biomarker for clinical trials and hence speed up the discovery process of new medications. To read more, click here.

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