Right now 5 million Americans are suffering with Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to grow exponentially as baby boomers age. However there is a new treatment that, if it pans out, could stop Alzheimer's in its tracks.
Dr. Dale Bredesen and his team of researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging discovered Alzheimer's Disease is caused by 36 different factors that all need to be addressed.
"Imagine you have a roof with 36 different holes in it," Dr. Bredesen said, "If you take a drug, for example, which is fine, it could potentially help, but it's only going to cover one of the 36 holes, so we want to be able to cover the others."
Dr. Bredesen and his team developed a series of tests to determine exactly what's causing a person's Alzheimer's.
"This includes things like looking at your exercise and looking at your diet and looking at your nutrition, your homocystine level, your copper-to-zinc ratio, your pregnelanone level, on and on," he explained, "We gather over 100 different metabolic parameters we have in a computer-based algorithm that will tell you what is actually contributing to this."
Based on those results, they formulate an individualized plan to correct the problems. Lifestyle changes like more sleep, no sugar and stress management are a big part.
They tried it on 20 people who were in the early stages of the disease and 19 of them regained their memory.
"So it really gives us a very different look at what Alzheimer's Disease is," Dr. Bredesen said, "And instead of saying simply, 'Alzheimer's Disease, period' we say, 'Alzheimer's Disease, due to what?"
Bredesen says if caught early enough, Alzheimer's can be reversed...even prevented.
"For example, there are 7 million Americans who are APO-E-4 homozygous," Dr. Bredesen said, "What that means is they have 2 copies of an Alzheimer's risk gene which puts them at very high risk for getting the disease. Currently people say don't get tested because there's nothing you can do. But we would argue that's changing. There's a lot you can do."
More trials are planned in the U.S. and in the U.K.