New Treatment Approaches for Alzheimer’s Disease and Opioid Addiction

New thinking in the medical and tech communities is beginning to give hope to finding effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and opioid addiction.

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    New Treatment Approaches for Alzheimer’s Disease and Opioid Addiction

    New Treatment Approaches for Alzheimer’s Disease and Opioid Addiction

    Two of the most intractable health issues in the United States are Alzheimer’s and addiction (drug and alcohol). Despite the extraordinary progress in medicine over the last two decades, treatment of these two diseases remains frustratingly stuck in an earlier era. But, new thinking is beginning to give hope.

    Alzheimer’s Disease

    Nearly 6 million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s, a number that is projected to rise to nearly 14 million in 30 years. By then, treatment costs for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia may be as much as $1.1 trillion.1

    Yet, despite its human, social and economic costs—and many years of dedicated research—no new or meaningfully different medication for Alzheimer’s has been approved by the FDA in more than a decade.

    One significant obstacle to finding new treatments has been the identification and recruitment of volunteers. That may soon change thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones and tablets, and the rise of cloud computing and deep learning software.

    The promise of these technologies, however, goes far beyond trial recruitment and management to include potential leaps in cognitive screening and tracking, behavior monitoring, and caregiver support.

    Equally encouraging, in a review of the current drug research pipeline, one study counted 105 distinct agents being tested in 2017, with about 25 percent in phase III studies (the last phase before submitting an application for FDA review).2 With such a robust queue, a true advance in treatment may be just around the corner.

    Opioid Addiction

    Each day more than 130 Americans will die of an opioid overdose.3

    This crisis has focused the mind and efforts of medical professionals and policymakers to find solutions. Already, some potential ways out of this disheartening crisis are emerging.

    One such approach is the development of non-addictive opioids, which target a specific cell receptor, thus limiting the potential for dependency. Another effort is centered on creating a vaccine to target opioids in the bloodstream to prevent them from reaching the brain and creating the euphoric effect that is so addictive.

    For individuals already suffering from opioid addiction, their best treatment is currently buprenorphine. Right now, it is only available as a daily pill, but a monthly injection may be soon available, which should increase addiction recovery rates.






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