Vail Daily column: Pursuit for Alzheimer’s cure continues
There have been a number of new studies on Alzheimer’s disease that are providing greater hope for early detection.
A few months ago, I watched a CBS news report about two new studies. One study indicates that there may be a relation between Alzheimer’s and the inability to identify odors. A second study reported that there may be beta-amyloid proteins in the eye that indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s. Such research and early detection could benefit many people as they may be able to start treatments and mitigate the onset.
Currently, predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s is done by measuring levels of abnormal proteins in spinal fluids, PET scans and MRI scans. These methods are expensive and not always reliable. There is progress being made with research in blood tests that may predict whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer’s.
Globally, researchers are looking at many possible tests for Alzheimer’s. With over 13 million people in the U.S. anticipated to get the disease in the next 30 years, the medical community is searching for a cure.
Around the same time, I read an article about a partnership between Google and Novartis, a European drug maker. This article had nothing to do with Alzheimer’s research. However, what I found very interesting was a possible connection. As technology firms find that consumers will spend great amounts of money to have personal electronic devices monitor their health, so comes new business alliances.
Google has an interest in developing a “smart” contact lens with the potential to monitor the wearer’s blood sugar levels. The lens, which Novartis will develop, will use sensors and a radio antenna to track glucose levels. The market for this would be for people who have diabetes. However, what if this technology could transfer over to detecting proteins in the eye that may lead to Alzheimer’s?
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, early detection can lend itself to improving people’s quality of life. Medications currently available are already aiding people with signs of early memory loss. Such medication, in addition to treatments for behavioral and sleep changes, are proving successful.
Alzheimer’s research will continue. Until a cure is found, those concerned about developing it should take an active role in reducing their odds. Read. Do a puzzle. Keeping your brain challenged fights cognitive decline.
Generally accepted preventative strategies for Alzheimer’s disease include: Watching for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, regular exercise, healthy diet, mental stimulation, sleep, stress management and an active social life.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.
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