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Emerging Research and Future Treatment Directions

Major medical breakthroughs emerge from extensive research on all kinds of diseases and illnesses. Alzheimer’s disease is widely studied and different types of research are conducted: laboratory research, clinical trials with patients, genetic studies, and much more. Scientists may focus their research efforts on prevention, treatment, psychosocial aspects of the disease, caregiving, and more. Although it may take a long time for research to be put into practice, the exciting thing is that new research is conducted all the time, so new knowledge is being gained and the potential for breakthroughs is promising.

Alzheimer’s centers

Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, or ADCs, are funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at various major medical institutions in the US.1 At these centers, researchers work on translating research into practice, which can include improvements in diagnosis and treatment, as well as potential ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They also have programs and support groups to assist families and caregivers cope with the effects of the disease and stressors of Alzheimer’s. Each center specializes in its own area, but also shares its research in order to facilitate progress.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are a significant part of medical research. A clinical trial tests new treatments, interventions, or medications to prevent, diagnose, or treat a disease.2 These are voluntary studies that you can sign up for if you meet certain criteria, and you will either get a placebo or the experimental treatment. You will be carefully monitored during the trial, and you can withdraw your participation at any time.

Science and drug research

Aside from clinical trials, there are many other different kinds of science and drug research being done with regard to Alzheimer’s disease. There are genome-wide association studies that look at the entire genome for little variations and mutations of genes that may play a role in certain diseases.3 There is the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) at numerous research institutions across the US, studying genetic data to look at genes and their variations, and how they are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.4 There are the previously mentioned ADC’s. There are various labs around the world doing research on health and disease as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. All of this research helps to bring medicine one step closer to a treatment that will slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, and perhaps one day even reverse or cure it.

If you’re interested in finding out more about clinical trials, ask your doctor about whether one might be right for you. If you want to learn more about current research being done, seek out reputable websites with more information, including the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association. Talk to your doctor about what you’ve read, since sometimes it’s not always easy to understand all the medical jargon. Talking to your doctor will also give you the opportunity to fact check what you’ve found and let your doctor explain whether these findings are promising or if there’s better, newer research that’s more applicable.

Written by: Jaime Rochelle Herndon | Last reviewed: June 2019
  1. National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers. n.d. https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/adc Accessed April 11, 2019.
  2. Alzheimer’s Association. What Are Clinical Trials? 2019. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/clinical-trials/what-are-clinical-trials Accessed April 11, 2019.
  3. National Institutes of Health: Genetics Home Reference. What Are Genome-Wide Association Studies? 2019. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genomicresearch/gwastudies Accessed April 11, 2019.
  4. National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project. n.d. https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/dn/alzheimers-disease-sequencing-project Accessed April 11, 2019.