Yesterday, I ran across an article on Yahoo! News that gave me reason to have hope. Well, just a little bit.
There are currently 3 companies that are involved in intense medical trials to try and assess the success-rate of their various medicines for stopping the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. The 3 companies are Myriad Genetics–based in Salt Lake City, Neurochem, Inc.–based in Quebec, Canada, and Elan Pharmaceuticals–based in Ireland.
All three companies are basing their research on blocking production of the plaque-causing protein beta-amyloid. In studies each of them have done, amyloid buildup is believed to be linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. By manufacturing medications that will block production of this protein, these medicines are thought to be able to stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.
All of this is good news for me. Those of you familiar with this topic will know that I covered it previously in a post concerning embryonic stem cell research. I still believe in stem cell research because of the potential for curing other diseases, but even if federal funding were increased, it would be years before the benefit of this research was available for widespread use. That does no good for my father and grandmother.
My grandma is currently suffering from the beginning-to-moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. The above-linked report indicates that an Alzheimer’s medication could potentially be on the market by 2008. My family on my father’s side has a pretty good history of contracting this disease going back to both of his parents. Not much is known about how much further back it goes. On my grandmother’s side there appears to be no history, although I reasoned it was more due to the relatively younger age of these relatives when they died. Unfortunately, this research will probably be of little help to my grandma. You see, today is her 92nd birthday. It is unlikely that she’ll celebrate many more, especially with being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The other benefit to this study is that potentially my father, brother, and myself need never get this disease. I’m hoping and praying that this medicine works before my Dad starts exhibiting symptoms.
So, Happy Birthday, Grandma!
And also, Good Luck to these three companies. I sincerely hope you are able to bring to market an affordable medicine which can be prescribed to many others with this horrible, debilitating disease.