MILWAUKEE – There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but doctors are hoping that through comprehensive drug studies they’ve found a better way to prevent the illness instead.
Professor of Neurology and Biophysics at the Medical College of Wisconsin Dr. Piero Antuono joins WTMJ’s Libby Collins discussing potential groundbreaking discoveries that could help prevent Alzheimer’s from developing or worsening in its early stages.
“As the chemical and physical changes occur in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease, pharmacology has a better chance to make changes in the early stages,” Antuono says.
Antuono says taking the “preventative approach” is the best way to go. He says the goal of the study is to treat normal memory with the “hope they won’t develop mild cognitive impairment,” which is one of the initial signs of the disease. The focus includes people with genetic risks and other risk factors that may cause the disease to develop later on in life.
According to Antuono, it’s been “difficult translating the studies into real world scenarios.” This is the first study where 25% of the participants are minorities. He says this data is “novel to look at” but will help researchers obtain a clearer outlook.
He also pointed to “Tau protein” saying it’s the “target of other companies trying to develop antibodies which will be able to block the formation of these tangles in the brain.”
However, this family of meds is in “the earliest stage of development.”
“It’s very early to see if they work yet,” Antuono says.
Through a “multiple pharmacological approach,” he says they “will become more sophisticated to know when and in which specific person these new medications which are coming out in the future will be useful.”
Antuono heaps praise on the Alzheimer’s Association for their contribution to the research studies.
“Alzheimer’s Association has encouraged a lot of research in this area by funding researchers around the world by putting together investigators in different continents who are working on the same project by having them join forces to speed up the development and research,” Antuono says.
Antuono has been studying this area since the 1980’s when he started his first investigation studies disease in Wisconsin. He, with the help of colleagues and physicists, developed biomarkers to help identify people at risk for dementia using an MRI.