More than likely, you have heard of Alzheimer’s disease and understand how it affects memory. But chances are the majority of people don’t know much beyond that. Jeremy Stierwalt understands the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease. Jeremy Stierwalt has spent many hours fundraising for research and to support the care of Alzheimer’s patients.
“There are treatments for Alzheimer’s. The disease is degenerative and cannot be stopped but symptoms can be slowed down. Like many diseases, the best chance of mitigating the progression of the disease comes from early detection, but there is lots of promising new research for treatments,” says Jeremy Stierwalt.
For years, Alzheimer’s research has focused on a protein believed to be the main cause of the disease. According to Jeremy Stierwalt, the name of the protein is amyloid beta and forms the clumps of plaque recognized in the brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients. The problem is, even though the protein recognized as a contributing factor, it may not be the only contributing factor of the disease, says Jeremy Stierwalt. An additional problem is that plaque buildup in the brain is a long process and doesn’t start once Alzheimer’s symptoms start.
“There is a new idea about Alzheimer’s disease that deals with the brain’s synapses,” says Jeremy Stierwalt. A new idea to come out of research is that diseases afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease lose synaptic communications and neurons die. Jeremy Stierwalt says that the failure of synaptic connections is critical because it is synapses that retain memories.
“More research is going into what is called synapses pruning. This is the idea that, while the brain naturally prunes synapses, an Alzheimer’s brain goes into overdrive and starts pruning many more synapses than in a healthy brain, thereby causing memory loss,” explains Jeremy Stierwalt.
One reason a cure for Alzheimer’s has not been found comes from its lack of public outreach. “More is being done now to push research and recognition of Alzheimer’s as a problem than ever before. Thirty years ago, we didn’t hear nearly enough about it or other diseases. Now, people are talking about it, but the funding for research hasn’t caught up,” says Jeremy Stierwalt.
For now, research involves studying a brain already afflicted, but to know more, the early stages of the disease need to be studied. “Research has started to look for genetic risk factors. Researchers need to study the brain before symptoms start. There is still much to be learned before a cure can be made,” says Jeremy Stierwalt.
For more on Alzheimer’s research, Jeremy Stierwalt invites you to read more at: