About Alzheimer’s Disease: Treatments and Research

No treatment can stop Alzheimer’s disease… yet. After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, patients live an average of eight to ten years. Some live with the disease for as many as twenty years.

In the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, there are some drugs available to help slow the progression of memory loss.

  • Generic name: tacrine Name brand: Cognex
  • Generic name: donepezil Name brand: Aricept
  • Generic name: rivastigmine Name brand: Exelon
  • Generic name: galantamine Name brand: Reminyl/Razadyne

There is a drug to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, called memantine (name brand: Namenda). The effects of this drug may be limited, but a little help may be better than no help at all.

Your doctor may also suggest other medications to treat some of the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Sleeplessness, agitation, anxiety, depression, and even wandering may be helped with prescription medications.

Research for new treatments and better diagnosis is ongoing. The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging are studying different forms of neuroimaging that may help identify brain damage (like plaques and bundles) before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease start to show. The use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET scans (positron emission tomography) may spot early changes in the brain.

The National Institute on Aging is also sponsoring a genetics study to investigate the risk factor genes for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Families with two or more living siblings who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are invited to participate in this study. Contact the National Cell Repository toll-free at 1-800-526-2839 or visit them online.

Clinical trials are underway to study the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease — evidence suggests that inflammation in the brain may contribute to the brain damage the disease causes. Another clinical trial is studying the effect of antioxidants on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease — a study a few years ago showed that vitamin E had a slowing effect on the disease. Scientists are also looking at the benefits of ginkgo biloba for delaying cognitive problems in older people.

Interested in participating in clinical trials? Find out more here:

  • http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/ResearchInformation/ClinicalTrials
  • jttp://www.clinicaltrials.gov