Seems there is a news report every day about Alzheimer's Disease (AD). It is enough to make people think we must be near a cure. HA!
All the Alzheimer's buzz got me wondering if we really know anything more about AD than we did when it was first named in 1907 after Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist. Back then a psychiatrist could do some research on the brains of the deceased. One of his psychiatric patients exhibited classic AD symptoms.
She became his obsession. After her death at age 56, he used a staining technique acquired from a neurologist friend, and he found the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary in her brain that define a diagnosis of AD to this day.
That's right, over 100 years ago. Today: No cure, no exact diagnosis procedures, no proven pharmaceutical interventions.
Let's see, 100 years...we invented the Ford Model T, cured polio, walked on the moon, invented the television, stopped AIDS from being a death sentence, put a computer in every home, phones without cords! But AD pretty much was pushed to the end of the line.
After all, every old person eventually became senile, don't they? No. They do not.
Alois Alzheimer died at age 51 from a heart failure. His discoveries we not highly touted in science. Finally a breakthrough: President Harry Truman convenes the first National Council on Aging! Give 'em Hell, Harry! Aging Americans would no longer be left to slumber on rockers.
Today you may read on the sites of "associations" and "organizations" that it is thanks to them that so many advances have been made in AD research. But after you read on, you'll be hard pressed to find anything new. It could be this or it might be that. Once we were even told a vaccine was on the way. When their grand successes don't pan out, they just stop talking about them. Maybe they think we will just forget.
No, we are dancing the same dance: Chocolate helps, exercise, do brain games, do puzzles, no not puzzles, can you see Einstein's face and do you know what he is famous for? Count back from 100 in 3s.
Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis, now that is a mouthful and the best idea I've heard in many years.
"It's like physically separating gunpowder and match so that the inevitable explosion is avoided," said a cell biologist and neuropathologist in the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UC San Diego. "Knowing how the gunpowder and match are separated may give us new insights into possibly stopping the disease."
In fact, I think it was a 2000 issue of Time Magazine that declared it the decade of brain research. Yeah, and what did THAT give us? Dementia is on the rise in people under 50!
Personally, I can relate, having been relegated to a life with MS, and become angry over the lack of our government's desire to declare war on diseases instead of countries.
We still know so little about that which makes us who we are---our brains. While we have new technology to look at, chart brain activity, still we do not know what to make of what we see.
One thing is clear: aging brains are more likely to develop Alzheimer's and in a few short decades we will have the largest older population in world history.
Farewell my brain, we once thought we knew each other so well.