Alzheimer’s Disease: Precision Medicine May Get Us Closer to Cure
Medically reviewed by Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)
A precision medicine approach based on biomarkers, powered by AI, and sensitive to gender may get us closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Two years ago, I was invited to write a commentary on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) for The Doctor Weighs In on behalf of the Women’s Brain Project (WBP). Since then an increasing body of research, novel treatment developments, and a growing discussion on precision medicine has led to major leaps in our fight to find a cure. This article reviews some of these advances but first, let me provide some background.
A diagnosis of dementia can be devastating
AD is a neurodegenerative disease that causes dementia. It is estimated to affect over 50 million patients worldwide according to Alzheimer’s Disease International and counting. Further, it is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly.
A diagnosis of dementia can be devastating for a family. The individual affected by it progressively loses their cognitive capability.
At first, they have only mild symptoms involving loss of cognitive functions. Often, this goes hand in hand with behavioral alterations. This stage is called MCI, short for Mild Cognitive Impairment. Such early changes can be very distressing for the patient and their loved ones, as they interfere with everyday life and personal relationships.
As time goes on, MCI evolves into full-blown dementia. This stage of the disease is characterized by a profound loss of independence requiring loved ones to become caregivers. Unpaid caregiving places an enormous burden on the families which is borne overwhelmingly by women, daughters, and wives. This can be quite costly for families as the carers may previously have been wage earners.
AD and other dementias also result in a huge economic cost to society as a whole. Notably, a study in the Lancet estimates the total global economic costs of dementia to $948 billion in 2016.
Unfortunately, we do not yet have an effective treatment for AD. However, over the last two years, a…