Research funded by the National Institute on Aging and completed by researchers from the University of Washington has shown that there is a link between regular consumption of nonprescription drugs and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The types of drugs that have been studied are classified as being anticholinergic. An example of a commonly used nonprescription anticholinergic drug is Benadryl.
John Breitner, Chair of dementia prevention research in Canada, has recently been focused on studying the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Breitner believes that prevention is the first and most important step in combating dementia. There are many preventative measures such as eating healthy and exercising regularly, and it’s possible there will be a drug that can prevent and/or postpone the disease in the near future as well.
Researchers at Washington University, USA believe that the emotional symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as depression and irritability, occur at the onset of dementia and should be recognized as cues to begin fighting the disease. Although it is difficult to say for sure if depression is caused from changes in the brain during Alzheimer’s or if it’s due to a person’s realization that something is wrong, but either way it should be managed quickly.
The National Research Council of Canada has recently licensed a large pharmaceutical company called, KalGene Pharmaceuticals to explore the effects of one molecule on the amyloid plaques in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaques are proteins clumped together causing damage to brain cells, and are thought to play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists at KalGene Pharmaceuticals believe there is a particular molecule that can be given to men and women with Alzheimer’s disease to reduce these amyloid plaques and therefore reduce the symptoms of dementia.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States is supporting research on frontotemporal dementia with 30-million dollars in grants so that researchers can further explore this unique brain disease. The nation-wide support means that we have come a long way in terms of increasing dementia awareness and this is great news! Frontotemporal dementia is not common, but results in severe behavioural changes and can have an onset as early as age 20.