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María Javier Ramírez Gil, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Navarra and researcher in Neuropharmacology of Alzheimer's disease and depression (IdiSNA).

Only the biomedical research will be able to cure Alzheimer's disease.

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:35:00 +0000 Posted in Media of group Vocento
María Javier Ramírez

World Alzheimer's Day has been celebrated on September 21 since 1994. The date was chosen by the World Health Organization and Alzheimer's International Federation with the purpose to raise awareness of the disease and apply for the support and solidarity of the general population, as well as institutions and official bodies.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia today. It requires comprehensive and continuous care with very high costs. In Spain, according to data of the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Relatives of People with Alzheimer's Disease (CEAFA), there are around 1.5 million people affected, with a prevalence of 7% for those over 65 years of age, which increases to 50% over the age of 80. Considered the new epidemic of the 21st century due to its high incidence and social scope, the dependence it generates affects not only the patient but also his or her immediate environment.

This disease is neurodegenerative and progressive, and although current drugs can partially slow its progression, there are no curative treatments. In this circumstance, the search for effective treatments is a priority and should be supported and promoted at all levels and in all biomedical research programs.

The first case of this dementia was described by Dr. Alois Alzehimer in 1906. Since then, research work has sought to advance in the knowledge of the causal factors and pathophysiology, with the goal to develop therapies that contribute to the control of its symptoms-both loss of report and behavioral alterations-, the delay in its evolution and, ultimately written request, to its cure.

The reality is that, in addition to the difficulties common to all research new drugs, there are additional problems in the field of Alzheimer's disease, such as the lack of fully adequate experimental models and the fact that clinical trials to make new drugs available to patients are subject to greater difficulties than in other areas of medicine. Despite this, clinicians and researchers have continued to try to elucidate the mechanisms that set this terrible disease in motion.

A milestone was the identification, in the 1980s, of the b-amyloid peptide as the major component of the so-called senile plaques - pathological protein aggregates present in the brains of patients. From that moment on, anti-amyloid therapies were the focus of all the programs of study. However, the lack of clinical efficacy of the drugs designed to eliminate senile plaques has led, in recent years, to this therapeutic approach being reconsidered in favor of a translational research that includes clinical and basic programs of study (animal models and programs of study in vitro) in an approach multidisciplinary using programs of study imaging, molecular, genetic, proteomic, epigenetic, etc.

This new approach from multiple disciplines has been supported by the confirmation that the first changes that occur in the brain appear twenty or thirty years before the symptoms of the disease manifest themselves. This time is considered critical to prevent and delay the devastating effects of Alzheimer's through the control of a series of risk factors and the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits.

Precisely the more precise knowledge of the risk factors, and how they contribute to development of the disease, can help us to propose new treatment strategies. Along these lines, in recent years progress has been made in understanding the relationship between this dementia and insulin resistance, stress, depression or hypertension, associated problems that would be key to preventing its onset.

However, biomedical research in general, and in Alzheimer's disease in particular, is suffering markedly from lack of funding. Economic problems have particularly affected the research, preventing the development of new ideas, hypotheses and projects.

In the situation in which we find ourselves, World Alzheimer's Day should serve to remind us of the terrible presence of the disease in our society, but it should also be an incentive to promote research, which is really the only effective way to eradicate it. deadline Our society cannot afford the very high toll that the reduction of resources dedicated to research represents in the short, medium and long term, both in economic and health terms, but above all because of the impact of this pathology on the family and social environment.