Alzheimer’s is a progressive neuordegenerative (effects brain function) disease, characterized by cognitive deterioration, which affects daily living, and loss of short – term memory. It is the most common type of dementia (Progressive brain dysfunction requiring eventually long term care.) in the elderly. Twenty-four million people today have dementia, and expected to increase to 42 million by 2020 and 81 million by 2040 because expectation of a longer life span. In the United States, Alzheimer’s accounts between 50 – 60 percent of all dementia cases. People aged 65, two to three percent show signs of Alzheimer’s, while 25 – 50% of people age 85 have symptoms of this disease. Statistically every five years after the age of 65, the probability of having Alzheimer’s doubles The disease progresses by impairing recognition of location of everyday objects, forgetting names of familiar people or places, confusion, trouble concentrating and learning new things, and forgetting words to express. In some cases, behavioral changes are noticeable, including outbursts of violence or exhibiting passive tendencies. Over time urinary and fecal incontinence increases, requiring the use adult diapers. Three diagnosed stages of Alzheimer’s: Mild – During the early stage patients become less energetic or spontaneous, and behavior changes may not be noticeable by the patient’s family. Moderate – During the middle stage, patients may need assistance with complicated activities. Severe – Late-Stage Alzheimer’s: Total loss of control bodily functions, requiring total dependence or supervision for any daily activity. The average duration of the disease is approximately 7 – 10 years or up to 15 years, until the final stage of death. However, some patients survive only four to five years after being diagnosed. Most common cause of death is due to infection. In the United States, estimated annual direct and indirect cost caring for Alzheimer’s patients at least $100 billion, according to Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute of Aging. This known type of dementia is the third most costly illness after heart disease and cancer.
Published study in Journal Brain in 2006, team of scientists from the institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London, presented research suggesting a blood test that could predict the onset of Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear. They used a process called proteomics, which studies more than two million different types of proteins in the human body. Each of one of these proteins catalyzing a biochemical reaction, transports oxygen in the blood, defends the body against diseases, and controls cell reproduction and development of various tissues. The researchers found that two types of proteins (Complement factor H (CFH) precursor and a (alpha) – 2 – macroglobulin (a-2M)) (Comparing protein levels in the blood of 500 Alzheimer’s patients with healthy older people.), found in the blood can indicate an increased risk of having Alzheimer’s later in life. The five – year study funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, United Kingdom. Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society at King’s college said: ” A blood test could help people receive treatments before symptoms develop, allowing doctors to give patients treatment that can help stabilize a person’s condition much earlier.” Positive blood test results, indicating the presence of these proteins, could offer sufficient time to make any future lifestyle changes, and prepare a Living Will.
Published in 2006 Journal of Medical Chemistry, research funded by the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, scientists (Research team lead by Professor Jerry Turnbull and Dr. Ed Yates) at the University of Liverpool created a new chemical compound called engineered heparans. It is made from a type of sugar called Heparan Sulphates (HS), found in nearly every cell of the body and used to stop blood clots (Based on the blood – thinning drug called heparin.). Initial findings have shown between 50 to 100 percent effective preventing clumps of small proteins forming in the brain (Alzheimer’s), which disrupts normal brain activity and cause gradual memory loss. The research team is expected to conduct tests on mice bred with a rodent form of Alzheimer’s disease. Within the next three to ten years, a development of drug treatment for Alzheimer’s could be available in pills, intravenous drip or inhaler. IntelliHep Limited has been founded to explore the commercial applications of developing engineering heparn as new drugs against Alzheimer’s and treatment for other medical conditions.