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Scientists have proposed that once individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer’s have been identified, a low-dose ibuprofen prophylaxis can be started to stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in old age patients worldwide. The Alzheimer’s Association has estimated that around 5.7 million Americans are currently living or diagnosed with this condition. While the cause and pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s are still under careful scrutiny, it is now understood that a protein aggregate, beta-amyloid, might have a focal role in the disease.
This protein accumulates and forms plaques in the brains of patients who have Alzheimer’s or are at a risk. Increasing levels of beta-amyloid, particularly the beta-amyloid 42 (Abeta 42) can interfere with the normal memory building and behavioral mechanisms in the brain.
Although Abeta 42 and other beta-amyloid peptides are suggested to play a role in the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s, Abeta 42 can also act as an essential biomarker for screening people with a risk of Alzheimer’s.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Patrick McGeer, CEO at the Canada-based Aurin Biotech, found that high-risk individuals experience the same level of Abeta 42 in their saliva as does a patient with a full-blown case of Alzheimer’s. A simple ELISA test on saliva sample can measure the levels of this protein aggregate. If it is found in elevated levels, it could pose a risk of Alzheimer’s in the near future for the individual.
Dr. McGeer has called the saliva test a ‘true breakthrough’ in the ongoing Alzheimer’s research since it “points in a direction where the disease can be eventually eliminated”. Dr. McGeer proposes, backed with another recent study, that once high-risk individuals have been identified with a saliva screening test, a low-dose NSAID such as ibuprofen can be started as a prophylactic treatment against Alzheimer’s disease.
Epidemiological studies conducted by Dr. McGeer and his team in late 2017 found that NSAIDs can help bring down the levels of Abeta 42 which triggers an inflammatory reaction. It is now proposed that low-dose ibuprofen started as soon as positive saliva tests are confirmed can stop Alzheimer’s in its track.
The typical age for developing the condition is over 65 years; Dr. McGeer recommends people should get a saliva test done at least 10 years prior so ibuprofen prophylactic therapy can begin.
This correlation between a readily available drug such as ibuprofen and a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s is certainly a groundbreaking discovery. However, this hypothesis is met with criticism by some professionals who believe that more research has to be done before a long-term NSAID therapy can be used to, possibly, prevent Alzheimer’s.
McGeer, P. L.,McGeer E.G., Kennedy, K., Guo, J. P., Lee, M. (2017). Alzheimer’s Disease Can Be Spared by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 62(3), 1219-1222. Doi:10.3233/JAD-170706
Lee, M., Guo, J., Kennedy, K., Mcgeer, E. G., & Mcgeer, P. L. (2016). A Method for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease Based on Salivary Amyloid-β Protein 42 Levels. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,55(3), 1175-1182. doi:10.3233/jad-160748