Only months ago, we read the very depressing news that almost all research to identify a drug to cure Alzheimer’s and related brain diseases had been closed down for want of any successful results. Millions and millions had been expended over the last few years, and all drug research and trials had failed miserably.
The news was especially depressing for the families of the 5.7 million older Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease today. Indeed, one in three seniors dies of dementia today, far more than from breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. In fact, Alzheimer’s and related dementias are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease; by mid century, it will be every 33 seconds.
And so it was hugely exciting to learn this week that Biogen and Eisai (Tokyo) announced success in an eighteen month, second trial of an experimental drug to cure Alzheimer’s. Test results showed marked reductions in amyloid accumulations in the brain and in the progression of the disease. This news, of course, is very encouraging, but we have been there before. All the same, the test results feel right, focusing as they do on the long suspected amyloid concentrations as the underlying agent of the disease.
Now those with the disease and their many caregivers anxiously await the third trial. It’s well past time to free the world of this devastating disease that turns normal folks, ultimately, into living vegetables.