Figures recently published show that today approximately 180,000 Israelis suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. With the number of sufferers set to triple by 2050, Israeli scientists are working against the clock to defeat this debilitating disease. We look at the three most exciting innovations.
A possible gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s found
A genetic test for early-onset Alzheimer’s moved one step closer thanks to a group of Israeli researchers, who have identified a genetic variant that may indicate a risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Having a family member with Alzheimer’s is a major predictive factor for developing Alzheimer’s yourself but, until now there was no clear genetic link for early-onset Alzheimer’s.
This study followed one family spread over seven generations to see how they had been affected by Alzheimer’s. Of 68 family members, 10 had already developed signs of dementia. Nine of these were carrying the chromosome 21 variation (chr21:27,224,097-27,871,284, GRCh37/hg19). The study found that individuals with the genetic variant were likely to experience cognitive decline in their mid-thirties.
With only 68 people taking part in the study, the next stage is to extend the study to see if the same findings can be found in the general public.
AI helps create eye test to predict the risk of Alzheimer’s
Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is leading the way in Alzheimer’s detection with a new form of artificial intelligence (AI.) Past studies have shown that changes in the retina can indicate Alzheimer’s before there are any overt symptoms. By using artificial intelligence, researchers were able to find patterns in the beta-amyloid plaques and abnormal tau proteins in the retina of diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. They found that subtle changes in pupil contraction are an indication of early Alzheimers.
This is a massive gain for patients everywhere. Current methods to detect the disease are invasive and usually only prescribed once cognitive decline has started. When this new Israeli innovation eventually reaches patients, then simple retina examination could become a routine test, allowing for the early start of preventative treatment, thereby dramatically reducing the impact of Alzheimer’s.
Bladder cancer treatment might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
A team from the Hebrew University has found a potential tool in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Derived from a strain of tuberculosis, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is commonly used for treating early-stage bladder cancer as intravesical immunotherapy, inserted directly into the bladder.
Israeli researchers analyzed the medical records of over 12,000 bladder cancer patients, 3 -7 years after their cancer treatment. Those who were treated with BCG were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s(30.6% less likely in the key over 75’s age group). This is very exciting news, especially for those at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s, who have a new hope in preventing the disease.
As exciting as these new developments are, they are still in the early research stages. Israel is leading the way in helping patients today as well. Both Aricept and Exelon are prescribed to help improve memory, awareness, and the ability to perform daily functions for Alzheimer’s patients, but these vital drugs can be prohibitively costly. Israelpharm, an Israel-based online pharmacy, is giving US patients access to both Aricept and Exelon (among other drugs) at a fraction of the cost in the US.
This is opening the door to affordable treatment to even more US patients. With an estimated 50 million people around the world living with Alzheimer’s disease, Israel is yet again showing how it is bringing new hope to patients around the world.
This article was written in cooperation with Israelpharm. Israelpharm offers US customers the ability to benefit from Israeli pricing on common pharmaceuticals through its website www.israelpharm.com. Products are dispensed by US-licensed pharmacists within Israel and shipped directly to your door.