Hope for Alzheimer’s research

It hasn't been a good few months for Alzheimer's research.

TauRx Pharmaceuticals announced the drug LMTX failed to block tau accumulation in the brain.

Eli Lilly announced the drug solanezumab failed to remove or prevent accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain.

Both were in Phase 3 clinical trials, a prospect that gave those suffering from memory loss, their loved ones, researchers, physicians and caregivers hope.

Those drugs might not be the miracle pills we were all hoping for, but hope isn't lost.

Alzheimer's Research UK unveiled its latest advertising campaign, "Santa Forgot." In the touching two-minute animated commercial, a young girl enlists Santa's elves to swap toy-making for research. "If Santa had a disease, research could find a way to fix it," narrator Stephen Fry says.

It may be pedantic and a little self-satisfying, but it's true. Talented minds will eventually find a way to solve the problem. Human history is a history of inventions and creative solutions to problems. And persistence. As Thomas Edison famously said of the lightbulb, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Here's a bright spot in Alzheimer’s research: High school senior Alexander Kirov is a national competitor in the Siemans Foundation's Competition in Math, Science and Technology for spending 11 weeks over the summer researching the disease’s pathology.

"Alexander discovered an interesting and novel link between exosomes—the tiny fluid-filled vesicles or sacs released by many cells—and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease," said competition judge Fredrik Vannberg, PhD, assistant professor of biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in a press release. "His findings identify new pathways for treating Alzheimer's the could potentially prevent the disease from developing or slow its progression in patients."

Further research could lead to the development of an actual drug and a new kind of treatment for Alzheimer's disease, Kirov told The Columbia County News Times. Today may be discouraging, but reading about talented young researchers like Kirov gives me hope for tomorrow. 

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia