Today, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another related dementia, and by 2050 we may see some 13.8 million patients with Alzheimer’s as our population ages.*
The clock is ticking. Can we possibly avoid a catastrophic dementia tsunami? What have we learned about dementia-causing diseases to date? And what are our best prospects yet for prevention, better diagnoses and a cure?
Research focal points of late include:
- Working toward a better understanding and a neural map of the brain, including projects like the BRAIN Initiative, described at TEDMED 2013 by Dr. Rafael Yuste.
- Developing better diagnostic tests, including brain imaging. Hear Alzheimer’s researcher Reisa Sperling discuss imaging advances at TEDMED 2012.
- Genetic risk profiling. If we can identify those at greatest risk for dementia earlier, can we develop drugs that can prevent it?
- Discovering and testing drugs that may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Current testing takes aim at beta amyloid, a protein associated with the plaque that forms in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Evaluating evidence that supplements and lifestyle interventions may reduce dementia risk. Can fish oil prevent cognitive aging? What about caffeine? How about herbs and antioxidants? Exercise? A good sleep? Current science seeks to separate sound, healthy interventions from myths.
Join TEDMED and invited guests this Thursday at 2pm ET to discuss these issues and others related to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Tweet your questions to #GreatChallenges, and we’ll answer as many as we can on air. Just click here to sign up and get started.
Guy Eakin, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at the American Health Assistance Foundation and a TEDMED Great Challenges team member, talks about advances in basic research related to dementia.
*Source: Alzheimer’s Association