Alzheimer’s disease ravages the brains of its sufferers. Individuals with this neurological disorder often are unable to care for themselves. Dedicated supervision then becomes necessary. For many, placing an affected family member in a nursing home is the only reasonable option.
Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Although it is possible to slow progression, symptoms can only worsen. The complexity and mystery of the disease make it difficult for researchers to find clear answers.
One reason Alzheimer’s remains irreversible is that scientists cannot agree on the cause. The most popular theory is that misfolding proteins are to blame. Subscribers to the amyloid hypothesis believe these proteins turn into clumps that kill brain cells.
Another idea is the neuroinflammation theory, which theorizes that sufferers release inflammatory chemicals from cells called microglia. Others believe the problem stems from diseased synapses or mitochondria. The variety of hypotheses makes pursuing the correct avenue for research more difficult.
Unfortunately, it can take years for an experiment to deliver results. Two or three decades may pass before symptoms surface in a person with the disease. By the time there is evidence of Alzheimer’s, it may be too late for a drug to make a quantifiable difference.
Additionally, performing trials over many years is extremely expensive. Meanwhile, federal funding for research could be much better. The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration is approving new treatments.
It is never easy helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Recognizing why a cure still does not exist can be a source of personal reassurance.