Three New Alzheimer’s Breakthroughs

15 | By Michael A. Robinson

We got news last week from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) about their clinical trials for what many hoped would become a knockout Alzheimer’s drug.

The compound would have become the first to fully address the steady decline in memory the disease causes. But new tests showed the drug simply didn’t work.

No doubt this was a setback for the firms, who sunk millions of dollars into developing the drug. And it’s truly disappointing for millions of current Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

But I don’t think we should be worried.

As I see it, this is a setback, not a fatal flaw. Remember, no road to victory follows a straight path.

And this field is moving so quickly that a new drug – or novel therapy – could come along any day now to provide relief to the five million Americans who have this disease closely associated with aging.

After all, we are living in the Era of Radical Change, a period like none we’ve seen before. We see hundreds of important breakthroughs in high tech and biosciences every year. The pace of change comes so fast no one person on earth can begin to understand what it all means.

But I do know this.

Some of the brightest minds in the world are working to combat the memory loss and dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s, as well as to find an outright cure.

I’ve been interested in this field for more than 30 years since I took a class on aging while getting my honors economics degree. And in just the last few weeks alone, I’ve read about several exciting new finds.

Let’s take a look…

Alzheimer’s Advance No. 1: Amyloid-Defeating IV Treatment

Consider the new drug from Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX). Doctors say four patients who received the highest doses in trials showed no decline in memory or thinking skills. Of course, that’s too small a sample to predict success at this point. But the results wowed experts attending a global industry meeting last month.

Patients receive this drug Gammagard through an IV. Technically, this type of drug is known as an immune globulin and is often to referred to as IVIG. It’s distilled from donated blood. The Associated Press says half a dozen companies already sell IVIG to treat problems with blood and the immune system.

These antibodies may also help remove amyloid, the sticky plaque that clogs patients’ brains and erodes memory and clear thinking.

Baxter intends to test Gammagard on 400 patients and have the results within a year. If the substance works as many believe it will, it could be huge. So far, those patients who have tried it love it.

“I feel that I haven’t gone down, and that’s good,” says Jason Marder, a 70-year-old New Yorker. “I feel good. I’m very independent.”

His wife Karin sounds even more thrilled: “He has slowed down, no question about it. His walk is a little slower, but that could also have a lot to do with age. He’s still the Jason that I married. He’s still there. We still have a wonderful relationship together. I’m grateful for every day that he’s independent.”

And who knows… we may not even need to take “drugs” at all.

Alzheimer’s Advance No. 2: Fighting the Disease with Nutrition

You see, also last month, a clinical trial at MIT found that a “cocktail” of nutrients known as Souvenaid – and taken as a drink – can improve memory for those with an early form of Alzheimer’s.

Souvenaid is a mixture of three naturally occurring compounds found in a healthy diet – choline, uridine, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (you get them by eating meat, nuts, eggs, fish, and flaxseed).

Researchers said Souvenaid combats Alzheimer’s by stimulating the growth of new synapses, which, among other things, pass signals from one brain cell to another.

No one knows when health officials might approve Souvenaid and when it would come to market. But it will likely hit Europe first. Souvenaid comes from the healthcare division of Danone, a food firm known in the U.S. as The Dannon Co. Inc. (you probably know them for their yogurt).

Meantime, July brought another Alzheimer’s breakthrough.

Alzheimer’s Advance No. 3: Earlier Detection

Scientists said they can build a “timeline” of the disease long before symptoms appear.

To do so, a team at Washington University School of Medicine looked at families with a genetic risk. Some 128 subjects received blood and spinal fluid tests as well as brain scans and a check of their cognitive skills.

Researchers said they saw clear signs of how Alzheimer’s progresses as much as 25 years in advance.

Another team was able to use walking patterns to identify cognitive decline and help with early diagnosis. In two studies – at the Mayo Clinic and the Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland -researchers used a computer to measure the stride length, cadence, and speed of participating walkers at two visits 15 months apart. Changes in a person’s gait were an early predictor of cognitive decline.

This is the first time doctors were able to link a physical symptom to Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s the thing. Getting early signs of Alzheimer’s will help doctors provide better care for their patients. It also means that new drugs could begin combatting the disease much earlier, say at age 40.

That gives investors like us a double play. We buy stock in a company that sells a product to patients for many years.

And by getting rid of this scourge, we really will be able to enjoy our Golden Years after all.


15 Responses to Three New Alzheimer’s Breakthroughs

    • James A Green says:

      I read the articles ,I want to thank each of the company’s that produced the trials ,Thank you ,I don’t have any problems yet ,but one never knows when things will happen , I was thinking when I read the one article that said that in in it’s trails the items they used started new avenues of blood vessel flows ,growth,Blood vessels ect ,and I thought about the medicine that the Heart surgeons use,THE injections into the heart make the vessels theselves search for new avenues to nurrish the heart ,Why can’t this drug be used to treat Alzheirmers patients ?It stars the growth of new blood flow through new areas ,that are not yet there .Maybe it can be used to treat other things such as ALZ ? Just a thought ,but if no one thinks about the things that we have availabe for use now ,then we are not helpping science or each other .Thanks for letting me reply, hope thing get better for eveyrone concerned .Ps .I Hope i didn’t mispell to many words .

  1. Madeleine Ayotte says:

    I find these articles most interesting…Knowing more about alzheimers would be very interesting…Thank you for this info.

    • Agung says:

      Dad is now in his 8th year of Alzheimers. Caught it at the beginning of stage 1. No meds will make it go away. In yr #5 we noteicd he shuffled just a tad while walking. Well, it gets worse. He can not walk as of 3 mo ago. Is 100% incontinent now, remembers only me, my mom, and sister by name. Barely talks, cannot converse anymore. He is entering stage 7. My advice if you have it is take vacations, write down memories to your kids, make peace with God, enjoy every sec with your family, its vital

      • Xiki says:

        DEAR SIR OR MADAM: Is Vitamin B REALLY able to cure Alzheimer? If so,would that not put the pills-and-tablets people out of bunisess?I mean, if we couldALL be cured of everything, all these apirin companies would fold up. THINKABOUT IT. These companies don’t want to cure everyone, now do they? Lookat all the money the Taxman would lose in taxes!! THINK AGAIN ABOUT THESECURES. They are probably only TEMPORARY cures. Pay more and more andmore money for relief. TEMPORARY!!

  2. fallingman says:

    Ah yes, the elusive drug cure. I won’t be holding my breath while the drug lords attempt to work their magic. Remember that cure for cancer that’s been right around the corner for 40 years? They just need a little more taxpayer and donation money and a little more time, don’t cha know. They’re not lying to us or defrauding us or anything like that.

    Thanks for including the dietary suggestions. Choline…yeah. Lecithin is cheap and very effective at retaining/enhancing memory. Choose the non-soy variety. Omega 3’s…of course.

    If I might offer a few other tips:

    Stay away from aluminum and its cousin fluoride. Eat plenty and I mean plenty of extra virgin coconut oil and take the spice curcumin, which is available in capsules.

    There are a lot more things you can do, but realize that you can do everything you need to do in terms of prevention and remediation without waiting around for the drug kingpins to ride to the rescue with some drug that’ll then appear in tort lawyer ads within a year or two. “If you or a loved one has been crippled by X, call the law offices of Y.”

    • Dex says:

      If you ever suffer from Alzheimers or have a loved one who does, there is hope. If you want to know more detial about Nita Scoggan’s story you can got nitascoggan.comand hear her story, hope this helps:)

  3. Andrew H. says:

    You might also want to take a look at this…

    A study on the effects of Anatabine (on Alzheimer’s) is currently taking place and should soon provided positive news. This nutraceutical looks very promising… (not just regarding Alzheimer’s, but regarding several other conditions too)
    Take a look for yourself. 😉

  4. Arne Hjemmen, Troll Research Station, Antarctica says:

    Possibly Alzheimer’s is not one, but a group of diseases under the same umbrella. At least there are two not fully identical types of the disease. One early-onset type with debut in the 50th or 60th, where there is a clear genetic component. The other with “normal” or late onset and the genetics are may be not so clear. In addition to cognitive decline is a dyspraxia which may be a bigger problem compared with the loss of cognitive function. The dyspraxia is probably more dominent in the early-onset type. Genetic counselling is therefore an important to close relatives to patients with the early-onset type of Alzheimer’s.

    Best regards Arne Hjemmen

  5. Sam Meekins says:

    I am encouraged by the number of companies advancing their research in the area of alzheimers, and to know that there is some hope on the horizon for family anf dear friends. Personally, I feel the attention to aiding the longevity of human life is a LESSER priority, with all of the new statistics being published on over population, economic concerns, the environment and how much our Earth can be drained of its natural resouces, before we all become extinct. The lack of food, water and other natural resources and of course, the WORLD’S Economic future are the ‘order of the day’ to sustain the life that exists on Earth today, with 7 billion people, nevermind the reality of 10.5 Billion forecasted by the turn of the century.

    Medicare and Insurance companies are now relying on Doctors to make the decision, if we live or die, due the seriousness and nature of our illness. We are slowly being disposed of on an ‘as needed’ basis. That is why the “government” wants CONTROL over our medical lives. It’s NOT about getting something for nothing people….it’s about CONROL over who lives and who dies.

    I guess when you understand that diseases are MAN-MADE, or manufactured, like the notion of FDA having CONTROL over what is in the foods we eat, it is of no wonder, that alzheimers, cancer, and a whole host of other diseases will provide for world population control. Alzheimers is a debilitating corrosion of the mind and it all goes back to what we eat!!!!! Processed food with preservatives and chemicals, we don’t have a clue what they are for, if any, or even if they are fit for human consumption (even in small doses). Yet, the FDA approves them for human consumption! About 817 people or 7% of the 11,500 people employed by FDA, work on what is consumed by the public, relative to Food Administration. And almost 3.5 times that number or 2900 people are used in the Drug Administration.

    Here are a few things I do (at 66) for holding onto my mental acuities, play Sudoku (a numbers game) , read about the Economy, Our Environment, Our Energy consumption and needs, breakthrough technologies, what we need to do to sustain our health, and financial welfare to exist in these times of incredible change! Go or Grow Organic!

    I feel Money Morning and Era of Radical Change are publications that everyone should have the opportunity to experience. They provide the cutting-edge information we ALL need, to make intelligent decisions in our DAILY lives! AND….they keep our ‘minds’ active and sharp!!

  6. Lalitha says:

    My father pasesd away almost a year ago from Alzheimer’s, it’s a terrible terrible disease, when we first started suspecting something was wrong was when my father started having complications in doing everyday tasks, it was really heartbreaking to find out that he had Alzheimer’s, we suffered as much as he did because it’s really hard seeing as his illness progressed, to those familys taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient I can only say try to always show as much love as you can till the end.

    • Gabriela says:

      There is a nice paper (Soscia et al, 2010 PloS ONE) showing that ayoimld-beta has similarities with antimicrobial peptides family, and also, it has antimicrobial proprieties. Could be ayoimld-beta a friend of innate imune response which is helping to eliminate some unknown infection in AD brain? I think this paradigm shifting really interesting, lets see what happens Bye from Portugal.

  7. JoAnn Gundy says:

    Lots of research and opinions about Alzheimer’s and related diseases. I began to notice symptoms in myself, about 12 years ago, while working with the older generation of people in a psychiatric hospital. Received information by three different MD’s or Companies about Phosphatidyl Serine, an amino acid that works on the neurotransmitters of your brain. (Sold as PS from several sources.) So, I began taking it as directed, with a 2 month supply. I noticed some improvement in my memory and verbal clarity, verified by my husband.
    Within a couple of weeks without the supplement, I again experienced some dementia- – such as a long argument with the electric company, which kept billing me for a month’s usage I was sure I had paid. After about 3 months, I found the payment in an envelope ready to mail, on the windowsill beside my desk, along with a small stack of mail waiting to be sent ! Of course, I paid the bill(s) personally, and immediately ordered a new supply of PS, which I continued to use regularly. Occasionally I have stopped for a time, due to lack of income, and other medical expenses, but am determined that this supplement will remain a part of my health plan along with other supplements for the rest of my life. (I am 79 years old, and feeling better than I was a year or two ago. I have only one prescription medication, which was cut in half after 3 months).

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