Disease Focus of the Month – Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD): Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia that affects people to carry out daily activities due to loss of memory, thinking and other brain functions. It is a brain disorder that damages and destroys brain cells. Patients with AD have trouble remembering things that have happened recently or the names of their acquaintances.

Prevalence Rate: Based on study at John Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public health, global prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease will grow to more than 106 million by 2050. The largest prevalence will occur in Asia which accounts for around 48% of the world’s Alzheimer’s cases. The number of diseased in Asia will grow approximately to 62.85 million in 2050, around 59% of the world’s Alzheimer’s cases.

Cause: The causes of AD are a mix of multiple factors such as age and genetics rather than just one or two. However many questions related to the reasons of cell failures are still under study. Following factors are considered important for the development of this disease:

Age and Family history :

Although older age doesn’t imply that a person will definitely develop this disease but it is very much prevalent among people older than 65 years. Also those, whose family members have Alzheimer’s, are prone to this disease easily at later stages. If more than one family member has this disease, chances are greater for that person to develop this disease.

Genetics :

There are two categories of genes that determine the probability of a person developing this disease. They are risk genes and deterministic genes. Risk genes increase the likelihood but do not guarantee this disease while deterministic genes affect directly the person and guarantee that the person will develop Alzheimer’s.

Abnormal protein deposits in the brain :

Many scientists believe that one of the reasons for development of AD is a sticky substance called amyloid that sticks in the brain to form plaques. However the research also suggests that the protein could pose a problem before it forms plaques. Other studies suggest that other proteins such as tau also play a major role in the development of AD.

Treatments: There is no permanent cure or treatment available for AD; however drugs support to temporarily help in memory and thinking problems in about half of the people who take them. Currently there are five FDA approved Alzheimer’s drugs that help to treat the symptoms.

Current developmental pipeline is understood to modify the process of the disease itself by trying to target the changes that cause Alzheimer’s disease. The medical world is still waiting for a breakthrough drug that can treat the underlying disease. Many experts in this area believe that in the coming years there are high possibilities of obtaining such drugs which are under clinical trials now.

Market size: The report on Global Alzheimer’s Prevalence and Drugs Demand reports the market size of the disease treatment to be around $ 8.3 Billion in 2010 with up to 12 million people suffering from this disease in USA, Europe and Japan who are considered leading markets for this therapeutics. The AD market is supposed to cross $ 9 billion by 2016 with the introduction of disease modifying drugs.

References: Alzheimer’s Association website, Wall Street Journal, Mind Power Solutions reports