Future of Alzheimer's Research
By: Tiffany Sisson
Over the last 15 years, scientists have made enormous strides in understanding how alzheimer's disease affects the brain. Many of these recent insights point towards promising new strategies for treatment, prevention and diagnosis.
An internationally known researcher, at the height of many of these advances, spoke with Tiffany Sisson. Dr. Barry Reisberg is the clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine's Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. His work has played a pivotal role in the development and approval of all three major drugs used in the treatment of alzheimer's disease. "The advances that we've been making are very real, and a lot of information is coming from basic science,' said Reisberg.
Understanding how, and why the brain works, and sometimes doesn't is at the heart of Dr. Reisberg's research. It starts with the characteristic progression of the disease. Reisberg said there are 16 stages, "You can explain the behavioral symptoms of the disease by the development, and translate the stages of the disease in the development ages. Everyone can understand the alzheimer's patients better by recognizing developmental aging."
Reisberg believes since alzhemer's patients typically revert to childlike behavior, it makes sense to study children. "We found that if you take standard intelligence test for children, and you give them to alzheimer's patients, they do every bit as well as the so call alzheimer's test, and the converse is true," explained Reisberg.
The brain actually loses energy at every single point as alzheimer's disease progresses. "The enzymes go down in alzheimer's disease, and that produces the decrease in this brain chemical. We know that by treating that brain chemical, we can improve alzheimer's disease somewhat," said Reisberg.