August 02, 2008

Effects of Alzheimer's Disease slowed by new medication One underlying cause of Alzheimer's is believed to be excess tau protein in neurons, which slows or halts communication in the brain. This medication, used for urinary tract infections, targets the protein tangles. (It also turns your pee blue.) Currently in testing, it will hopefully be on the market in 2012/13 for those of us that might need it by then.

I saw this on the news here; the drug is being called Remba at the moment. The text describing the preliminary trial is here but very dense.

  • 2012/13? Can't they test any faster? Hang on, Pterry!
  • Pardon the length of what follows. One of the things I revere most about my family, on both sides, is their ability to greet personal tragedy with humor. Take, for instance, the story of my maternal grandmother, who died after a long struggle with Alzheimer's, on my birthday, while I was on honeymoon in Mexico. Before she was so far gone that she needed to be admitted to 24-hour care, my grandmother lived with my dad's little sister and her family. During normal days, my aunt (a stay-at-home mom) had ample time to deal with her, but as the holiday season approached, things got tougher for her. Luckily, there was a local organization that provided what was essentially an adult daycare program for Alzheimer's patients. My aunt could drop Grammy off, do shopping and run assorted errands, then pick her up in the afternoon. She made a point of dressing Grammy up in a sweater she (Grammy) had knitted herself, in the days before her mind left. Grammy was quite the seamstress, quilter, knitter and crocheter. Currently an antique quarter-sawn oak file cabinet stands in Jack's nursery that used to hold her Butterick patterns. Every day that Grammy showed up for daycare, she was greeted by the same woman -- let's call her Rose because that's what I like to call her -- who was so far gone in her disease that she was always meeting my grandmother for the first time, every single day. Rose would walk up, introduce herself and shake Grammy's hand (which afforded her no small amusement), and at some point, she would notice Grammy's sweater. "Where on earth did you get that beautiful sweater?" she would ask. Grammy would stand a little straighter and beam right at Rose. "Well, I made it myself." "Oh my GOODNESS, that is just BEAUTIFUL, how on earth can you DO such a thing, I mean that is just UNBELIEVABLE." Rose became my Grammy's best friend. Everyday it was the same thing. My name's Rose. Where did you get the sweater. Well, I made it. Oh sweet CHRIST. Until one day. "Hello, I'm Rose, and it's so wonderful to meet you." "Hi, Rose, I'm Alta." "Alta, welcome, we're so happy to have you here. Oh my, where on earth did you get that beautiful sweater?" Grammy stopped. And she thought. The thought was there, she had it yesterday. She knew it was there, just a little...hmm...the just...I... "Well," she finally decided, "there was a time I could have told you, but now I'm just about as goofy as you." RIP, Grammy.
  • Sad, but a lovely story, MCT. What a strong character she must have been. We lost both my husband's grandparents after long bouts with Alz. His parents are in their early 80s and doing well, but very afraid of losing their menta faculties. How horrible to have that as a daily fear every time you misplace your keys or can't remember a phone number.
  • Sad, but a lovely story, MCT. On the contrary! She would prefer that you laugh at such a story! Sad that she died, yes. But this story? Poignant, perhaps, but funny, by our standards down here.
  • My wife used to volunteer at a nursing home. There was a gent there who had been a banker all his life. I gave her a copy of The Wall Street Journal to pass along to him. He read it - the same copy - every morning. I was glad the issue I chose was of a day when the markets were up.
  • If one can put up with the annoying navigation, Days With My Father is a touching site.
  • While no one in my family has Alzheimer's, it's a low-level phobia for me that I or someone I love might end up with it. A family friend spent time at Cambridge (or Oxford, I don't remember) studying the causes of Alzheimer's, and I have seen the brain of a man who died after suffering from it - it looks and feels dramatically different to a healthy brain. As a result I'm interested in anything that can prevent or slow the progress of Alzheimer's. Also I am intrigued by the blue pee. I loved your story, mct. Very poignant and funny.
  • Huh, that Days With My Father site is down.
  • My grandfather died of the disease, and at a pretty early age. My mother is currently going through the phase where every small thing forgotten seems like a warning sign. It's so good to see any kind of hope on the horizon. MCT, your Grammy sounds like an awesome lady!
  • The site works for me, trac.
  • Me too now. I got an error the other day though.
  • Hopefully these guys are right on track!
  • Scary stuff, indeed. If I get the Alz, I hope I fall of my horse and go head-first off a cliff.