When Brian Kursonis started “blanking out” for moments at a time, a scan revealed plaques of a protein called amyloid in the brain, one sign of Alzheimer’s disease. A test of his spinal fluid found high levels of amyloid and tau, another protein linked to the condition.
Even so, to the average eye, Brian looked free of any illness. “The main thing I run into is that people don’t believe I have Alzheimer’s because I present so well. They think of Alzheimer’s as an old person in a chair who is drooling and can’t communicate. That’s not my situation. There’s a stigma and there’s a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding,” he said.
As Brian has seen firsthand, Alzheimer’s disease devastates the minds of people of all ages and creates substantial burdens for families and caregivers.
Current medicines only treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease – such as memory loss and confusion – and do not treat underlying cause of the disease. It’s important to develop new medications to prevent, delay or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease particularly as 76 million Americans from the baby boomer generation age. In a new report, we highlight how America’s biopharmaceutical companies are working to combat this devastating disease.
Right now, there are 87 potential new treatments in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. Current research is focused on treatments that may slow or stop Alzheimer’s, including targeting the immune system to enable it to fight the disease and developing medicines that lower inflammation in that brain, which is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately, there is hope that even modest progress in treating Alzheimer’s disease can drastically change this trajectory. If a new medicine could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years, roughly $367 billion annually in long-term care and other health care costs could be avoided by 2050.
Scientists have made progress in unraveling the complexities of the brain and identifying the underpinnings of Alzheimer’s but finding an effective treatment remains a daunting challenge. A list of medicines in development can be found here.
Andrew Powaleny Andrew Powaleny is Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA. Before joining PhRMA in 2015, he worked at the House Energy and Commerce Committee and later as a communications consultant. Andrew came to Washington, D.C. via Connecticut and proudly sings with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, runs with the DC Front Runners and serves on the Alumni Council for The Fund for American Studies. He is also a member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association.