Treating Alzheimer's Disease
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can help patients and their families cope with the disease’s effects. There are four drugs currently approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. For patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, Donepezil (Aricept®), rivastigmine (Exelon®), and galantamine (Razadyne®) are used (donepezil can be used for severe Alzheimer’s as well). These drugs are acetylcholinase inhibitors, which can help improve attention and memory by increasing the concentration of the brain transmitter acetylcholine. For moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, Memantine (Namenda®) is used. These drugs cannot reverse the process of Alzheimer’s and may not be effective in all patients, but they can work to regulate neurotransmitters (the chemicals that send messages between neurons the brain) and potentially help maintain thinking, memory, and speaking skills, and help with certain behavioral problems.
The Future of Alzheimer’s
While there are some drugs that can treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is currently no treatment that can stop or cure the disease. However, the UAB Memory Clinic is dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment for Alzheimer’s patients and promoting research toward an eventual cure. Currently, research is being conducted to better understand the interactions between plaques in the brain (amyloid and tau) that play a role in Alzheimer’s, a necessary first step in developing new treatments for the disease. Other research efforts at UAB include exploring Alzheimer’s-related damage in the brain and developing treatments that may protect brain cells from the devastation of this disease.