Our understanding of how the disease works is also changing, in a way that would make early detection necessary. Dementia has a very long duration – up to 20 years, sometimes – during which time scales and blood tests can detect subtle changes but no symptoms appear.
Two proteins begin to appear in the brains of patients with dementia in this window: tau and amyloid. Researchers have struggled for years to change what they are doing, but now some think that they have the answer. With dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid forms tangles and markers in the gaps between brain cells. The doctrine is that to a certain extent, it triggers the tau protein — which is usually part of the nerve endings — to change from normal to toxic. It is the cause of many symptoms, by killing cells and disrupting the ability of neurons to send clear signals.
In June 2021, a The FDA granted immediate approval for aducanumab, the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in 18 years. But it is a controversial method, because in the past drugs aimed at removing amyloid have failed to make a big difference.
In the coming dementia sense, however, timing can be very important. With early detection, drugs such as aducanumab can be given while there is still time to change. “Once you remove the amyloid right from the start, that’s probably where the real benefits come from,” says Koychev. If amyloid can be removed from the brain before it becomes toxic, the side effects may be delayed or prevented together.
Easy-to-use digital tests can be combined with brain scans and blood tests to help researchers map out how amyloid and tau proteins interact with cognitive impairment – and whether removing them makes a difference. Instead of just looking at everyone, Koychev is focusing on those in the most vulnerable groups and monitoring them frequently.
It is said, however, that there are many conflicts in the field, and there are great skepticism if new Alzheimer’s drugs have worked as expected. But it has also strengthened research into what Habibi calls a “long drought” in a field that is on the verge of cancer and financial interest and the interest of pharmaceutical companies. Refusal is thought to be due to a number of factors, such as the stigma attached to the disease, the aging process, and the tendency to kill those who are “old and old.”
Things are changing as a large group of rich people enter the age when the risk is even greater. Trials like the ICA are looking at them, but Koychev hopes to “re-establish democracy for mental health.”
Because it’s digital and just a little bit controlled, it can be taken anywhere you can get an iPad. This means that they can reach out to people who have been left out of traditional education, who often have groups of volunteers who do not accurately reflect the population. They can also be taken multiple times, to create a picture of how a person works over time – Recognition features a separate iPhone app called OptiMind designed for home testing that requires the same functionality.
We may still not have the right treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but being able to recognize them quickly can change our thinking about the disease, which in itself can improve our understanding and generate funding for the answers we need. Koychev states: “The brain will become something that people can see and care for, just as you would for your own health.
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