As research continues in hopes of finding a cure, World Alzheimer's Day is celebrated on 21 September
World Alzheimer's Day is celebrated on 21 September. In Italy the cases number in the hundreds of thousands. For those who suffer from it, it is a sort of impalpable "fog" that falls on the brain, erases memories, takes away autonomy. And it weighs on families, who have to constantly look after a father, grandfather or brother who is no longer able to live as before. In our country there are many awareness-raising initiatives on the subject, both on the scientific and on the social front. But among the many problems in solution wax, we see some flash of light. And also the hope of a cure that finally has an impact on degenerative pathology.
Between future therapies and the impact of the lockdown
"To date – explains Gioacchino Tedeschi, President of the Italian Society of Neurology – the therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer's are only able to partially mitigate the symptoms, but have no impact on the progressive evolution of dementia, once it is is manifested. However, we have new hope: thanks to scientific research, the FDA (the body that registers drugs in the USA) has just recently agreed to examine the studies conducted on the drug aducanumab, a monoclonal antibody that has been shown to be effective in removing the 'accumulation of beta amyloid, the cause of the disease, in subjects who are in a very early stage of the disease ”.
We are only at the beginning of a journey, so it is not really the case to indulge in easy optimisms. But it is important to observe how a monoclonal antibody could, in the future, be able to directly fight the mechanism that causes the disease, especially if recognized early. The goal of the treatment is to "bind" the drugs to the pathological protein that is deposited and drag it away. Waiting for tomorrow, Italian research reports that Covid-19 has had a particularly significant impact on the disorders of those suffering from this pathology and more generally of dementia.
According to a survey by the Study Group on COVID-19 of the Italian Society of Neurology for Dementia (SINdem), carried out through surveys on 4,913 family members of people with dementia followed in 87 specialized centers throughout Italy, and published in Frontiers Psychiatry , the pandemic has added further problems. "From the study – says Amalia Cecilia Bruni, President-elect of SINdem – it emerged that, one month after the start of quarantine, 60% of patients suffered a worsening of pre-existing behavioral disorders or the appearance of new neuropsychiatric symptoms. In over a quarter of cases, this new condition was such that it required a change in drug treatment. In general, the most frequently reported symptoms were irritability (40%), agitation (31%), apathy (35%), anxiety (29%) and depression (25%) ". Obviously, all this also had repercussions on family members.
Watch out for good habits in prevention
To date, there is no definite formula for preventing Alzheimer's disease, but there is evidence that some simple rules, such as weight control, could help in this regard. The report comes from a research that appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, which controlled the blood supply to the brain with sophisticated techniques, considering the different areas of the organ. The analysis covered over 17,000 people. In those who are overweight or, worse, obese, there would be a reduction in the supply of blood and nourishment to areas of the brain that have a significant role in the disease, such as the hippocampus or the temporal and parietal lobes, obviously in comparison to people with normal weight. Explaining this association is not easy, although a role seems to be played by inflammation which, by tying itself to excess weight, could also affect this front. It is not a definitive conclusion nor should we think that by keeping the normal weight the risks can be eliminated, just as it is not certain that those with a stomach are destined to get sick. But prevention, through healthy habits, can help keep us healthy.