A New Jersey physician recently convened a meeting inside a local New Jersey Church to recruit elderly participants in clinical trials for Alzheimer's research. He specifically targeted the undiagnosed -- those who are only beginning to have memory slips. By providing cutting-edge treatment to patients at the earliest onset of Alzheimer's, the physician hopes to advance research on several drugs which might treat the presently incurable disease.
And research is desperately needed, considering the latest setback. A new Alzheimer's drug in development by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer showed disappointing results in its second clinical trial. The drug, called bapineuzumab, was designed to target beta amyloid, a toxic protein believed to be a cause of Alzheimer's. However, the drug made no improvement in either the cognition or daily functioning of Alzheimer's patients. Consequently, both companies will be discontinuing their research.
Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative neurological condition, causing increasingly pronounced cognitive decline. There are 5.4 million people living with Alzheimer's in America, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, yet the only disease in that top 10 list that cannot be cured or even slowed.
The first symptom of Alzheimer's might only be short-term memory loss. As the disease progresses, however, it can affect all aspects of a patient's life, including speech, problem solving, recognition abilities, and behavior. In its late stage, a patient might lose not only the ability to recognize loved ones, but also the ability to eat and walk.
Alzheimer's patients whose condition prevents them from working might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration classifies the disease as an organic mental disorder, and requires applicants to show how its symptoms are interfering in functions such as daily living tasks, interaction with others, or focusing on and completing tasks. Symptoms recognized by the SSA may include memory problems, the inability to remember either new information or past events, disorientation as to place and time, and/or disturbances in mood or personality.
Source: nj.com, "Despite lost battles, Alzheimer's war goes on," Amy Ellis Nutt, Aug. 16, 2012
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