Cure for Alzheimer's disease remains elusive

Bryan Strickland
March 22, 2018

A study released Tuesday reported that the cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease continues to rise by $20 billion a year and Alzheimer's-related deaths are also increasing.

The findings showed that the compound betanin in beetroot extract could eventually help slow the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain, a process that is associated with Alzheimer's disease. The projected to spend $277 billion on Alzheimer's or other dementia care in 2018 alone, with an aging cohort of baby boomers pushing that number to $1.1 trillion by 2050. "Interestingly, the forms of tau that are turned over more quickly are also those that are prone to misfold and aggregate in the context of Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies". There are now an estimated 5.5 million Americans aged 65 or older with Alzheimer's. Adults caring for Alzheimer's patients spent 18.4 billion hours in unpaid care to Alzheimer's patients that is worth an estimated $232 billion. Diagnosis now takes place after symptoms begin to appear, but the diseases that cause dementia can begin 15 to 20 years before then.

Analysis by Alzheimer's Research UK suggests a protective jab will cut the number of cases by 394,000 - almost half.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in both IL and the US and the only disease in the top 10 causes of death in the USA without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

According to the Alzheimer's Research UK, dementia has higher health and social care costs (£11.9bn) than cancer (£5bn) and chronic heart disease (£2.5bn) combined.

"We've known for a long time that CSF tau is increased in Alzheimer's disease, but until this study, we didn't know if tau production was increased or if clearance was decreased", says Chihiro Sato, a member of the Bateman lab and one of the paper's co-first authors.

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Every 65 seconds, someone in the US develops Alzheimer's dementia.

It should be noted that if Alzheimer's disease is identified early on during the mild cognitive impairment stage, the report claims that it could save the country $7.9 trillion over the lifetimes of the people carrying it. Of that amount, the report found $186 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid, while $60 billion constituted out-of-pocket costs.

About one in three caregivers (34 percent) is age 65 or older. The cause of the disease is still mostly unknown, but scientists suspect that a big contributor is beta-amyloid - a peptide that builds up in the brain and disrupts neuron communication, eventually killing them off.

In addition, costs are lower once a person with Alzheimer's gets on the right care path.

In an accompanying report on the benefits of early diagnosis, researchers said that spotting Alzheimer's disease early could save the United States as much as $7.9 trillion in health and long-term care costs.

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