Will there be a cure for Alzheimer's Disease in my lifetime?

MODS: This my be IMHO territory…

Every now and then I read about breakthroughs in understanding what causes Alzheimer’s Disease. Clearly something is going wrong with the brains of these people.

I have personally witnessed the devastation of this disease in my family, so I have a selfish interest in someone finding a cure in my lifetime.

What are the odds of a cure being found within the next 30 years?

I personally think they don’t have a clue about what really causes Alzheimers, or arthritis, or Parkinsons, or childhood diabetes, schizophrenia, or a multitude of other random diseases. They can describe in detail what is happening with the body when it strikes, but not the agent that causes it.

(My personal, totally unscientific ungrounded opinion is that it is a form of infectious disease - which is usually what a random, unpredictable affliction of an otherwise healthy person tends to be).

Take a lesson from the curent issues about liberation therapy for MS. For decades, brain scientists postulated all sorts of weird mechanisms except the one currently blamed - simply that constrictions in neck blood vessels created back pressure whcih results in iron from the blood creating brain problems. The simple fix is allegedly to use an angioplasty-like technique to open the vessel. How many thousands of very smart scientists spent billions and decades doing rsearch without seeing that simple answer?

That doesn’t mean that someone won’t have some interesting drugs to mitigate the symptoms of Alzheimers in the next years or decades…

How about taking a lesson from the neurologists who think that one vascular surgeon in Italy is full of it? Who point out that none of the epidemiological findings in MS are associated with venous diseases (epstein-barr, ancestry, that MS is more common in women)? That none of the hallmarks of venous pathology are common in MS? That no known venous disease causes an organ-specific immune response? That Zamboni’s study included no blinding and no controls? That his treatment is dangerous and its effects are irreproducible?

A cure for AD? Unlikely, because especially in late term, the brain is so destroyed by this point. Could we prevent progression of the disease if we catch it earlier? That is more likely, don’t know when though.

Well sure, his “drive a ice shaping machine all over the patient’s brain” method is bound to have detractors.

In your lifetime? How old are you?

Yep. It is. :slight_smile:

the Op asked “What are the odds of a cure being found within the next 30 years?”
So I’ll bet he’s about 40 years old. :slight_smile:

Unlikely in the OP’s lifetime. Medical science is barely scratching the surface of how to fix the brain. I think we’ll have sustainable fusion reactors first.

Yeah, we really don’t even have much of a clue about what causes Alzheimers. It’s a very poorly understood disease. To simplify (a lot), all we really know is that many elderly patients have dementia. If you look tissue samples after they die, many patients with particular kinds of dementia also have amyloid plaques in their brain. Since there is correlation between severity of dementia and quantity of plaques, many researchers assumed that the plaques cause Alzheimers.

A lot of research and drug development has attempted to reduce plaque formation, with a few recent spectacular failures. One class of drugs (gamma-secretase inhibitors) does slow the plaque formation, but they do nothing for the actual dementia (and there are nasty side effects). That failure suggests that the amyloid plaques might just be a symptom of some unknown disease process. It’s a really dramatic example of how correlation and causation are not the same thing.

(Early onset Alzheimers seems to be a different disease, since it is caused by mutations that lead to amyloid plaque formation. There, the amyloid plaques are more likely to be causing dementia, but it’s hardly clear.)

So given the current state of Alzheimer’s research, I don’t think we’re going to see any useful treatments any time in the next several decades. And I’m very pessimistic about any sort of neurodegeneration treatments. If you “cure” alzheimers, I think you’ll just delay cognitive decline for a few years before some other form of neurodegeneration kicks in.

I’m optimistic. I think it’s possible that there may be a breakthrough in AD within 30 years.
Even though it may seem like not much progress is being made, when I think of how far things have come compared to the last 30 years, I do think we’re getting somewhere. For example, we now have some understanding of risk factors and even though we can’t reverse or stop the cognitive decline, we do have medications that can at least slow the decline. That’s a start in the direction.
I think sometimes we forget how far medical knowledge has come just within the last century. 100 years ago, type 1 diabetes was basically a death sentence but nowadays it is not nearly so scary thanks to insulin. High blood pressure likewise used to kill a lot more people and now we have numerous medications to control it (even though a lot of people still die from complications of uncontrolled high blood pressure because they simply choose not to take the meds - and incidentally, some research suggests that there may be a link between high blood pressure and later developing dementia).
I also think that the fact the baby boomers are rapidly approaching the age at which they will be vulnerable to AD will spur a lot of research in this area.

Other than familial or genetic risk factors, is there anything someone can do (e.g. diet or exercise?) to delay the onset of AD?

My mother feared getting AD during her lifetime (her father, my grandfather suffered from it) and always did lots of puzzles to “exercise” her mind… but by age 72 her short term memory was failing and by 75 she couldn’t recognize her immediate family.

What can I do at age 56 to decrease the chance of getting AD? Is there any kind of medical test to see if I am likely to get it?

If you carry the gene (as I do), I’m sorry to say you have a very good chance of getting it yourself.

As an Alzheimer’s Advocate, I keep myself educated as to all new research, but so far nothing looks promising here in the US, and I am of the opinion that may be because we sit on the goddam dime to long. (Read as FDA stupidity).

Also, if I may, please mods? The “12 Disciples Of Trimming The Debt” are now in charge of reducing the national debt by 1.5 trillion dollars, which may affect all of us with Alzheimer’s related dementia.

I don’t think I’m allowed to link y’all to anything regardng this, but please give it some thought.



One thing you have control over is that you can have your blood pressure checked and make sure you get it under control if it’s high. As I mentioned, there is some research that shows that high blood pressure does affect your risk.
Other than that, I’d suggest looking at the info over at

It is technically possible to have genetic testing for a gene called Apoe-E4 that does raise the risk of alzheimer’s disease in some families but this testing is not really done routinely at this point. Since testing positive for the gene is not a guarantee oyu will develop AD and testing negative doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed not to get it, I probably wouldn’t worry about it.

The difficulty in answering a question like this is that you can’t predict what new technology may exist 50 years from now, that could make solving current problems, such as alzheimer’s disease, laughably easy. One might say today that something is essentially impossible, and without a different, unimaginable process or technology, they may be correct. But putting a timetable on things much beyond 25 years becomes very murky conjecture.

Not to derail the thread, but more and more evidence is accumulating which confirms what reputable scientists have been saying for years: liberation therapy for MS is useless, and “that simple answer” is complete BS which has killed a few MS patients and provided false hope to countless others.

Don’t want to derail either. My point - MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, childhood diabetes - strike randomly and unpredictably. We can point to minor selection factors -traits and environmental - but unlike a true genetic disease such as Huntingtons (Woody Guthrie) there is no demonstrable/predictable cause. I suffer from lip sores (Herpes I?) every 6 months to 2 years or more, totally randomly. People who experience post-polio syndrome, dementia from syphylis, etc. also demonstrate a very erratic, unpredictable and random outbreak. Disease behaves like this.

IIRC there were about half a dozen cases of early-onset parkinsons, including Michael J. Fox, among the people that worked on one of his early TV shows in Vancouver. Environment? Disease? Coincidence? Some day maybe we will understand.

(I would perhaps be more sympathetic to the claims of fraud about Dr. Zamboni if it weren’t for the people who report significant improvement after treatment. I was not aware that MS symptoms could be significantly countered by the placebo effect.)

Um not quite. Did you know that people with Down’s get Alizheimers? It is genetic in some cases.

Since the most common form of MS involves a series of often dramatic declines and remissions, it would be more surprising if some people didn’t report significant improvement after treatment.

I have been researching this disease for seven years, due to family members that have had the disease. We actually know a great deal about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and how to treat it, although the latter is not well-publicized because U.S. researchers want a drug “solution” to Alzheimer’s disease. Since 1997, researchers have known that peroxynitrite-mediated damage is widespread in Alzheimer’s disease (peroxynitrites are also implicated in a series of other diseases including many forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, some types of heart disease and strokes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS). Factors that can contribute to the formation of peroxynitrites and thus an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease are high glucose levels, high blood pressure, Down syndrome, the APOE4 gene, presenilin gene mutations, bisphosphonate osteoporosis drugs (such as Fosamax and Boniva), late estrogen replacement therapy, mercury, aluminum fluoride, and stress. Given the wide variety of dietary, genetic, environmental, and drug factors that contribute to the disease, it is no wonder that the disease is so widespread.

Peroxynitrites oxidize (take hydrogen away) from glucose transport systems, choline transport systems, the enzyme choline acetyltransferases, g proteins coupled to receptors involved in short-term memory (acetylcholine muscarinic), mood (serotonin), sleep (melatonin), alertness (dopamine), and smell (olfactory), nitrate tau proteins (thus inhibiting neurotransmission), and cause an influx of calcium killing neurons. Peroxynitrite scavengers (which convert peroxynitrites into less harmful compounds–namely water and a nitrogen dioxide anion) and which partially reverse oxidation by adding hydrogen back to receptors, enzymes, and transport systems have been effective time and again in improving cognitive function in animals and/or human beings (see for instance the clinical trial by Jimbo and colleagues using essential oils via aromatherapy and the clinical trials by Akhondzadeh and colleagues using tinctures of essential oils). The list of peroxynitrite scavengers is quite long, but it includes ketones from coconut oil, minocycline and other tetracycline antibiotics, rosmarinic acid, grape seed extract, cinnamon extract, true cinnamon essential oil, rosemary essential oil, lemon balm essential oil, and sage essential oil. Aromatherapy is particularly effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (as I have seen in the case of my own mother) because the compounds which scavenge peroxynitrites can be inhaled directly into the part of the brain where the peroxynitrites are doing the most damage–hippocampus.

It is an indictment against the medical community, Alzheimer’s organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry that the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease has been known for almost 15 years and that they have ignored study after study (mostly conducted outside of the United States) that strongly indicate that peroxynitrite scavengers can be used to effectively treat the disease.

Just one more point. Many of the same compounds which can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease can likely be used to delay its onset. Phenolic compounds in various fruits, vegetables, spices (tumeric, clove, cinnamon, and rosemary, for instance), and essential oils and Omega 3-fatty acids (in fish oil, for instance) inhibit peroxynitrite formation and probably help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.