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Alzheimer’s advancements promising

To the editor:

While attention has been focused on COVID-19 this year — and rightfully so — there have been several noteworthy developments in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research during 2020 that bring hope to more than five million Americans living with the disease.

Discoveries presented in July at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference include the unexpected benefits of flu and pneumonia vaccines in reducing incidence and risk of Alzheimer’s. A blood test looms on the horizon, using specific markers in the blood that may detect changes in the brain 20 years before symptoms occur.

Scientific leaders, including the Alzheimer’s Association and representatives from more than 25 countries, are collaborating with technical guidance from the World Health Organization to track COVID-19’s long-term impact on the brain.

Research on the APOE-e4 gene variant — the most well-known and strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease — has largely been done in people of European descent; however, genetic risk for Alzheimer’s may not mean the same for all races and ethnicities. New research finds APOE-e4 has a very different effect in Latinx populations.

The drug pipeline for Alzheimer’s is heating up. Suvorexant, used to treat insomnia, is FDA approved for use in people with Alzheimer’s. Awaiting approval is Pimavanserin, a drug that treats hallucinations and delusions in Alzheimer’s. BAN2401, an anti-amyloid drug, is in Phase III of a clinical trial.

These efforts are bringing us closer to our ultimate goal: prevention, treatment and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia. Visit alz.org.

 

Gino Colombara

Executive Director, Southeastern Virginia Chapter Alzheimer’s Association