Alzheimer: The biggest challenge of medicine

One in ten people over 65 suffer from this neurodegenerative disease whose main risk factor is age. There are more than 1,125,000 sick and, being a pathology whose caregivers are family members, affects the lives of 4,500,000 people.

Today, the disease that Alois Alzheimer first described in 1906 has become the greatest challenge of modern medicine, explains the neurologist Pablo Martinez-Lage, scientific director of the CITA-Alzheimer Foundation: “First because of its high prevalence and the high level of dependence generated for eight or ten years. Multiplying dependence, prevalence, cost and considering the population ages increasingly, in 20 or 30 years the number of people who have it will bend.” You will get more interesting info by visit

alzheimer-the-biggest-challenge-of-medicineSo far this year, there have been published nearly a thousand works on Alzheimer’s disease in the PubMed database. Despite efforts in research, this disease still has no cure at present no way to slow it down considerably, unlike what happens with Parkinson’s, the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease. “In the last twenty years has come a long way in terms of the mechanism of the disease is known to affect synapses or communication points between neurons, but there together all the pieces of the puzzle. In a deficit of 80 it was found acetylcholine and preponderate thought could be modified course of the disease. However, patients treated with cholinergic improve a little, but not as much as in the párkinson when administering dopamine. Alzheimer’s is a complex disease in which there are many neural networks involved with different neurotransmitters.”

In this condition begins to take shape long before the first symptoms, time of intervention is essential to appear. “It is a silent disease and when you go to the neurologist’s too late. Amyloid deposits appear ten or twenty years before diagnosis. After tau protein tangles appear. There are items that clearly indicate that at this stage it is no longer time to treat amyloidal. Tau can also be a good target. Then neuronal death is becoming more massive. Everything indicates that Alzheimer’s had time windows for treatment, “says Jesus Avila, CSIC researcher emeritus and director of the Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases Network (CIBERNED).

One of the great challenges in this neurodegenerative disease is to find out why some people can avoid Alzheimer’s disease even though his brain shows signs that today are considered characteristic of this neurodegenerative disease: amyloid plaques protein and tangles tau. The study of these cases could provide clues in the search for more effective than the current ones, which serve to design new drugs therapeutic targets.

But you need to invest more resources and more money in researching this devastating disease that affects one in 10 people over 65, and nearly half of those over 85.

Dementia drug research has experienced unprecedented failure rate. Funnels illustrate the average number of compounds necessary in each stage of drug development for approval of a drug. As a result of these unprecedented failure rates, dementia has become uncompetitive compared to other diseases. And this creates a lack of investment, due to the enormous costs with no or virtually no return, so that dementia becomes a high-risk area for investment.

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