Research related to Alzheimer’s Disease is making progress. We have gained considerable knowledge in the past two decades, with Canadian researchers at the forefront. They give us hope for tomorrow. In honor of the great work that’s been done, this website explores various aspects of Alzheimer’s research and the hope of a world without Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been over a century since the identification of Alzheimer’s disease. Once considered a normal part of aging, it is now a known disease with treatments and help for those affected. In this video, you can see how Sunnybrook scientists made history when they used ultrasound to temporarily breach blood-brain barriers in a clinical trial:
Those affected by Alzheimer’s disease should know that Alzheimer research is currently more promising than it has ever been in the past. We now know a great deal about the chain of events within the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. At every point in that chain, there is an opportunity to stop the process and prevent the disease.
Much of the excitement among researchers all over the world focuses on producing drugs that intervene at one of the different stages. The overall aim is to prevent the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain that deposit as tiny plaques which kill nerve cells and give rise to the disease. Entire families are affected when a loved one develops the disease and often, it’s the little things that make all the difference.
Another approach to achieving this being actively pursued by researchers is to develop vaccines that stimulate the body to create its own antibodies against these toxic proteins. Unlike the current treatments that address symptoms, all these new treatments will actually stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Once we’ve stopped it, and so “cured the disease,” we must repair the damage already done, and thereby “cure” the person with the disease. This could perhaps be achieved if we stimulate the growth of nerves from the nerve cells that survived the process of the disease in the brain.
We already know what kinds of drugs can do this, and a big push is being made to find new, more precise ways to deliver them to the brain. There is a lot still to be done in this area but researchers are making significant headway so patients can have an active lifestyle again.
For those coping with Alzheimer’s disease, the answers can’t come fast enough. My hope is that there is comfort in knowing that researchers in Canada and around the world are excited and optimistic about the great discoveries being made. We are closer than ever before to stopping this disease.
Click here to check the presentation of Bruno Giordani, PhD
Alzheimer’s Was a Blessing
Gus Katsaros’s story is as much a tribute to the sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease, as it is to the caregivers.
“The ship’s setting sail,” he said to my mother. Yet another moment added to memories that float in my head. Mistaking the sound of my nose honking with that of a ship setting sail from port was nothing new. He had said peculiar things before. Moments before, as she brushed his hair, he said her hair was ‘crying.’ That’s the nature of Alzheimer’s disease for you.
My mother laughed, but only when out of his range of vision. In her simplicity, she felt bad for laughing at him. I couldn’t help but laugh. We weren’t laughing at him, but with him. When I blow my nose, I now think of a ship setting sail, having imprinted the association of a blowing nose and a ship blowing its horn as it left port.
Considering the circumstances that led to him being bedridden for months, the Alzheimer’s wasn’t, that bad. Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t killing him. It was the cancer.
The Alzheimer’s was a blessing.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s began in Philip, my dad, in his early sixties, developing underneath our scope of comprehension of these changes, flying just under the radar and finding all sorts of excuses for memory loss. It was only in retrospect that we, as a family, realized its inception.
The Alzheimer’s alone presented its own unique difficulties, a forgotten name here, face there. Increased irritability and irrationality. Over time, he lost control of his higher consciousness, the ability to link past, present and future events, with our position in the universe. Only when we begin to lose this sense do we realize it is a precious gift, one taken for granted.
Once we understood his condition, once we realized it could indeed be Alzheimer’s, realizing it would deteriorate, the focus changed to our mother. Did she have the heart to institutionalize him? Cultural stigmas dictated she would lean towards keeping him with her, with no regard to risks and circumstances.
Till death do us part, for better or worse. These were not mere clichés; they were guiding principles to their existence. Still, concerns lingered. How rapid would his descent be into mental chaos? How do we cope as a family?
What if he turns violent? Concern for our mother’s welfare became a prime consideration. We realized it would get worse, only not in the poignant string of events. His mental pain of disassociation with the world changed into physical pain and suffering, arriving with the cancer, overpowering the mental stress. I was wondering if perhaps it was inheritable. Who knows?
An old Italian maxim asserts, ‘March comes in like a lion, and exits like a lamb.’ Albeit a reference to weather, nonetheless appropriate for that month. Concern regarding the rage-like-a-lion advance of his irrational logic, tapered into a lamb-like tranquility. Something else was wrong. His body told him so, despite his mental incapacity. He just knew.
The ruthless advance of pain, increased intensity as one complication added to another. A bedsore developed in his lower back, requiring hospitalization. Due to the infectious nature of the build-up in the bedsore, he required a colostomy. Life became a daily struggle with pain.
Yet, he didn’t realize it. In his newly developed sense of reality, pain seemed like a new occurrence every time. His Alzheimer’s Disease reduced the realization of other ailments. In this regard, it’s considered a blessing.