Thursday, August 14, 2008

Help Could Be On The Way For Alzheimer's

Help finally could be on the way for victims of Alzheimer's disease. After decades of arduous work, drug makers and academic researchers believe they've made considerable progress in bringing a new generation of treatments to market that may ease symptoms of the devastating brain disease and might even stop its progression.

Several compounds are in mid- and late-stage clinical trials, and the first new drugs could hit the market in as soon as three years. "The rate of Alzheimer's is going to explode as the baby boomers hit 65," said Dr. Sam Gandy, a leading researcher at Mount Sinai Medical Center and chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's medical board.

Today about 5.2 million Americans suffer from the neurological disease. About 13% of all people aged 65 and over are believed to be afflicted, with that number rocketing to about 50% at age 85. By 2030, an estimated 7.7 million will be living with the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

That's grim news for American families. Because Alzheimer's patients eventually require some type of round-the-clock care, having a family member stricken with the disease can be a heavy burden, emotionally and financially. And although many patients do end up spending their final days in a nursing facility, an estimated 70% are cared for at home.

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