Advancements in Alzheimer’s Research Made in 2020

Brain from wooden puzzles. Mental Health and problems with memory.With so much negative news in the forefront of 2020, it is worth reflecting on a number of the wonderful achievements the year brought – most notably the advancements in Alzheimer’s disease research. Katie McDonough, director of programs and services for the Alzheimer’s Association, shares, “There are many things that we’re learning and it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research.”

The following are just a few of the milestones reached that are taking us ever nearer to a cure:

  • Identification of Alzheimer’s risk factors. Understanding the leading risk factors for dementia, such as excessive alcohol consumption, pollution, and traumatic brain injury (among others) is projected to lower cases of Alzheimer’s around the world up to 40%.
  • Falling rates of Alzheimer’s cases. For the past three decades, dementia diagnoses in North America and Europe have declined by 13% per decade – very likely due to changes in lifestyle.
  • Progress towards earlier diagnosis. The Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases initiative (EDoN) has been launched, wherein digital devices are now being developed to diagnosis dementia earlier – as early as 10 – 15 years before symptoms begin.
  • Greater focus on MCI. Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is now being evaluated more closely, making it possible for earlier strategy, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Dementia blood tests. Predictors for the potential risk of Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more sophisticated, and in a recently available study from Sweden, scientists identified blood-based proteins that predict future thinking and memory problems.
  • Review of antipsychotic prescription drugs. A recently available study conducted by the University College London uncovered an elevated rate for the prescription of antipsychotic medicines for those with dementia – likely from the increased need for delirium management along with agitation and anxiety from COVID-19 restrictions. These medications are recommended only when no alternative is available, and the reduction of their use is currently being further explored.
  • Artificial intelligence. At a faster pace and less expensive, a new AI solution is able to determine the form of proteins in the brain, helping medical researchers design medications that can help remove these proteins.
  • Aducanumab. The FDA accepted this promising drug in 2020 for a priority review process, meaning that sometime early in 2021, we should be finding out if it is approved for use within the general population.

At Generations at Home, we are committed to following the current research on dementia, as well as on providing the cutting-edge, highly skilled care that helps those diagnosed with dementia live to their greatest potential. Whether the need is for full-time care, or simply several hours every week for trusted respite services, reach out to us for an in-home assessment for more information on how we can help.