May 4, 2009 -- Question: Is there anything I can do to prevent my Alzheimer's disease from progressing?
Answer: Just about everybody with Alzheimer's disease asks what they can do to slow the progression of the disease -- to prevent the disease from getting worse. The most important answer to this question is that many people around the world are working very hard to find more effective treatments.
The treatments that we have today, by and large, improve the symptoms of the disease without preventing its progression. But we think that we have made huge advances in understanding the mechanisms that cause the progression of Alzheimer's disease and that means that we have a handle on how me might be able to stop progression or slow progression.
And, in fact, there are a number of new treatments in clinical trials today that aim to halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease. When one of those drugs becomes available, we will move to a new stage in the treatment of the disease where we will be focusing not only relieving symptoms, but on treating the underlying disease and halting its progression.
And what is most important in the worldwide effort to develop these new treatments is the willingness of people affected by the disease, both individuals with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's and their families -- willingness of as many as possible of these families to participate in clinical trials of new treatments.
The slowest step in the development of new treatments is testing them in rigorous clinical trials. And without those trials we cannot make progress.
So I would urge everybody who's interested in this effort to control the disease to move beyond treatment of symptoms to halting progression, to consider participating in clinical trials.