On the occasion of the celebration of World Alzheimer’s Day, which takes place this Wednesday, September 21, Farmaindustria has highlighted the solid portfolio of drugs under investigation, which represents the greatest hope to combat it: 83 new drugs are in clinical development by some company biopharmaceutical, of which 82.5 percent are considered disease-modifying therapies, according to the latest report from US employers Phrma.
In turn, this document shows that the innovative pharmaceutical industry’s dedication to finding a cure is unwavering, despite a 2 percent success rate. Thus, it is estimated that 9.7 million people in Europe alone are already living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
With a rapidly aging population, this pathology is a growing Public Health problem throughout the world, as it is believed that this number may increase to 14 million by 2030. In the case of Spain, there are 1,200,000 people affected for some type of dementia, a figure that approaches five million if families are counted.
Affected in Spain
According to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), this disease affects some 800,000 people in Spain. In any case, and while waiting for research against this disease to continue advancing, he affirms that there are a series of measures that could significantly reduce the number of Alzheimer’s cases.
Specifically, “several modifiable risk factors have been identified that would prevent at least 30 percent of dementia cases in the world. However, according to our studies, less than 50 percent of the Spanish population knows which are modifiable risk factors for the disease”, highlights the coordinator of the Behavior and Dementia Study Group of this scientific society, Dr. Juan Fortea.
Available treatments help alleviate some of the symptoms, but there are no pathology-modifying therapies that will vary the course of Alzheimer’s, reverse or slow its effects. These therapies would allow patients to live an independent life and maintain their cognitive abilities for longer.
As the head of the Neurology Department of the Ruber Juan Bravo Hospital Complex and Quirónsalud Madrid University Hospital, Dr. Rafael Arroyo, points out, “although age is the main risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, this disease is not an inevitable consequence of get older”.
Age, therefore, and certain genetic aspects, influential but not determining, are among the risk factors for the development of the pathology. “We cannot change that, so we talk about non-modifiable risk factors,” says this expert.
From the Memory Disorders Unit of the La Luz Hospital in Madrid, a center managed by the Quirónsalud health group, neuropsychological evaluation is valued as a key to being able to identify if there is a cognitive disorder and determine what profile the patient presents.
“Recently, Dr. Sandra del Mazo, a neuropsychologist, has joined with the aim of offering a neuropsychological assessment to patients who come for memory or other cognitive disorders. With this resource, more reliable and early diagnoses are achieved, especially in young patients or with very mild symptoms,” says the head of the Neurology Service of this hospital, Dr. David Pérez.
Commitment to research
Under the motto ‘InvestigAcción in the itinerary of dementia’the Spanish Confederation of Alzheimer’s (Ceafa) calls these days to reinforce the commitment to research and focus on the importance and need to continue betting on it, whether in the biomedical aspect -for the diagnosis and treatment of disease- and social -for the improvement of the quality of life of the people affected-.
“Ceafa’s vision is a world free of Alzheimer’s, so it is necessary to promote the application of research advances to clinical and socio-health practice”, declares its president, Mariló Almagro. “Long lead times need to be shortened so affected people can quickly benefit from new products and processes,” she says.
For their part, professionals from the Ribera Almendralejo Hospital in Badajoz, a center managed by the Ribera Salud health group, join the celebration of World Day for this disease, with the initiative ‘Hands for Alzheimer’sto raise awareness about this degenerative pathology, which affects memory, thought and behavior.
To do this, a large group of professionals from this center put on green gloves and raised their hands to demonstrate the importance of the research, because it represents the hope of an effective treatment, as well as the help of public and private organizations and institutions to guarantee attention and specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s, and the support that the families of these patients need.
Raise awareness in society
In this context, the pharmaceutical company Roche launched the campaign ‘Remember it‘, whose objective is to raise awareness about a disease that, despite being known, is still very little talked about and that is difficult to detect at an early age. Thus, it is the most common type of dementia, which progresses slowly and in early stages, is characterized by the presence of small oversights that are not usually paid attention to.
Precisely, to publicize these initial symptoms, this initiative explains, through videos with simulated scenes, this type of situation that can respond to early Alzheimer’s, which manifests itself in people under 65 years of age. As Dr. Jorge Mauriño, who is Roche Farma Spain’s Neuroscience Medical Lead, comments, “we have probably all heard of this disease or even know someone close to us who suffers from it, but the truth is that it is not often openly about it, since it continues to be a problem that stays at home”.