With the increase in life expectancy, the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease increases – a disease of forgetfulness that characterizes the elderly. Along with increasing efforts to better understand why the disease develops and how it can be prevented, the pharmacological response to those who have already contracted it remains limited. The solution for Alzheimer’s patients may lie in one of the clinical trials testing a new drug for the disease.
Today in Israel, it is estimated that over 150,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. The reason that this is only a hypothesis, among other things, is that some cases are undiagnosed.
Quite a few people think that Alzheimer’s, which involves the gradual loss of memory and daily functioning abilities, is part of the natural process of aging, but this assumption is incorrect. Not all seniors will develop Alzheimer’s, and not all Alzheimer’s patients are necessarily seniors. In rare cases, the disease can also appear in the 40s and 50s.
If you or someone close to you has Alzheimer’s Disease, the first symptoms may be almost imperceptible. Sometimes patients have difficulty remembering only events that occurred in the short term, or suddenly have difficulty performing daily activities. Sometimes patients are able to “compensate” for these difficulties at the beginning of the disease and hide them so that they are not felt by their family members.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a gradual course, with a persistent exacerbation that progresses over time and affects more and more areas related to memory, behavior, and function.
Over time the disease makes it difficult not only for the patient but also for the family members and caregivers around him. Functional impairment can also lead to behavioral changes such as loss of self-control, which in turn can also lead to aggressive outbursts.
The incidence of suffering from dementia doubles every decade, starting at 60 years old.
Apart from age, risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease include hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, and past head injuries.
Various supplements, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3s, have not yet been shown to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease.
The average life expectancy of an Alzheimer’s patient ranges from 4-8 years, post-diagnosis.
Nevertheless, some patients live with the disease for 20 years or more.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Participating in a clinical trial can provide an opportunity to acces a new drug that may lead to a real change in the course of your disease – Check your eligibility here.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common disease that causes dementia (a group of diseases characterized by a gradual cognitive decline) and accounts for about 80% of all cases.
In order to assess whether a person has Alzheimer’s Disease, a comprehensive medical evaluation must be performed, the purpose of which is to rule out, among other things, other causes that may impair brain function. In fact, some of the reasons may be reversible.
The medical assessment also includes performing memory tests. The tests allow the doctor to assess not only the existence of dementia but also to assess its severity, and later in the follow-up – also to monitor deterioration in various memory indices.
While the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease relies on medical evaluation, imaging tests of the brain – and in particular MRI of the brain – are often needed to examine the structural changes that may occur as part of the disease, or to rule out other findings that may “mimic” Alzheimer’s Disease.
In some cases, comprehensive tests can be performed that can look for additional signs related to the disease, including genetic tests, blood tests, or spinal fluid (CSF) tests. These tests are not part of the disease’s diagnosing routine, but in some cases, they may help.
Disease diagnosis includes memory tests. The tests allow the doctor to assess not only the existence of dementia but also to assess its severity, and later – also to monitor deterioration.
Pros and cons:
Two main groups of drugs are used today to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. In the absence of a drug that leads to curing or stopping the disease, treatments focus primarily on relieving symptoms and delaying the rate of Alzheimer’s progress.
The first group is drugs whose mechanism of action is inhibition of the enzyme cholinesterase (cholinesterase inhibitors). This enzyme is involved in various neurological processes that take place in the brain and it has been found that its inhibition leads to a slight improvement in Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Drugs belonging to this group include Memorite® (Donepezil, also known by the other trade name Asante®), Raminil® (Galantamine), and Axlon® (Rivastigmine). The differences between these drugs are, among other things, in the form of their administration and the frequency of use of each drug.
The second group is Memantine®, which has a different mechanism of action and focuses on blocking the NMDA receptor in the brain. Studies have found that over-activation of this important receptor in the nervous system can increase brain aging. Therefore, blocking it with drugs can lead to positive results in treating a disease like Alzheimer’s.
These drugs, from both groups, lead to only a slight improvement in the symptoms of the disease and may not be recommended for long-term use. Particularly, because they affect the heart rate and can lead to arrhythmias in some patients, they should be used with caution. These medicines may also react with other medicines that the patient is taking for other medical conditions, especially for the elderly patient population.
New clinical trials are constantly open to find drugs that can provide a solution for patients with Alzheimer’s – I want to check my options.
Once all the treatment lines have been exhausted – what is the next step?
A drug has not yet been found to be effective enough to treat or stop Alzheimer’s Disease, but the world of science is not giving up, on the contrary – new clinical studies are constantly being opened up in search of drugs that may provide a solution for Alzheimer’s patients.
The need is immeasurably greater, as the number of Alzheimer’s cases is growing year by year, and the therapeutic burden, which often involves families, is an emotional, medical and financial burden. In some medications, there is an aspiration both to change the course of the disease and also to alleviate the accompanying symptoms, and which affect patients’ quality of life and the environment close to them.
Participating in a clinical trial can provide an opportunity to experiment with a new drug that may lead to real change not only for you but also for other Alzheimer’s patients in the future.
Clinical trials in Israel for Alzheimer’s Disease:
The treatments as part of clinical trials are provided at a number of medical centers in Israel, with continuous medical follow-up, free of charge. Patients in various stages of the disease are recruited to these clinical trials. Studies include administering treatments using medications, supplements, or other therapies and closely monitoring patients’ medical outcomes and quality of life.
The goal varies from study to study when there are studies that focus on prevention and early detection others focus on slowing the progression of the disease, improving the quality of life, or improving the symptoms and cognitive abilities.
To better understand what clinical trials are and how they are conducted you can read some articles on our website.
You want to know if there is a clinical study in Israel today that can suit you or your relatives? You can fill out our short questionnaire by clicking on “Match me a trial”. If we find a study that suits your medical condition, you will get more comprehensive details about participating in the study and joining it and we will connect you to the relevant medical team.