Latest research on Alzheimer’s disease suggests that in the future patients could benefit from a more effective treatment. Researchers at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen and the Hospital de Santo António, CHP, Porto, Portugal, believe that AD could be stopped before symptoms appear, which would be a remarkable progress. Alzheimer’s disease has a very long preclinical period, in other words, the disease begins about 10 years before symptoms occur. This is one of the reasons that treatment is not effective.
Researchers have found that cerebrospinal fluid contains certain biomarkers that could be used to monitor the disease independent of symptoms. What is interesting is that these biomarkers have already been identified in patients with Alzheimer’s disease but a direct association between these biomarkers and the disease could not be demonstrated since the brain can be viewed only after death. So researchers want to better understand AD in preclinical stages and study the effects of different treatments on two animal models of AD (transgenic mice). Also, the researchers want to see and if these biomarkers can offer information about AD disease in preclinical patients.
The interest of researchers to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is justifiable because AD has a rising incidence and is a public health problem; in 2010 statistics showed that over 36 million people suffered from this disease and it is estimated that the incidence will double in 10 years. Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs with age, lead to memory loss, impaired perception of time and space and, in advanced stages, patients with Alzheimer’s disease can no longer care for themselves and become totally dependent on their families or medical staff. Needless to say that the costs allocated to treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease are enormous: WHO estimated that in 2010 640 billions dollars have been spent on treatment and care of these patients. Given all this and the fact that the world population has a clear trend towards aging, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is extremely important.
Now, according to latest research, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) contains two biomakers, amyloid-beta (Ab) peptide and Tau protein, which can provide information about disease progression in preclinical stage (it seems that patients with Alzheimer’s have less Ab peptide and more in their CSF compared with healthy patients). Though other studies are needed, researchers are optimistic and hope that this transgenic mice can be used to test new drugs for AD using CSF analysis.