There’s fresh hope for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease with one of America’s leading neuroscientists predicting there will be a cure for the devastating disease in 10 to 20 years.
An estimated 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or related dementia, but only one in four have been diagnosed.
Neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli told the New York Post that recent advances in stem cell research and other medical breakthroughs are offering promising results in the push towards a drug to slow the development of symptoms.
Early diagnosis, a key part of fighting the disease, could also be made easier in future.
“[The idea is to push] the disease back, by developing a drug that we can give to someone years before they start experiencing symptoms,” Jebelli said.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the condition has baffled experts since its discovery 111 years ago.
The degenerative disease causes brain cells to wither away over time, leading to reduced cognitive function and behavioural changes, such as aggression and mood swings.
Early diagnosis has proven to be key in warding off symptoms and prolonging life.
Because it’s slow to develop, diagnosis is often made at a later stage, making it more difficult to manage.
Jebelli says an effective drug could “change the course of the disease” and delay symptoms by years so that people end up dying of natural causes instead.
Delaying the appearance of symptoms would not only affect patients, but also health systems around the world that spend billions on care for Alzheimer’s patients every year.