Research updates on Alzheimer’s disease treatments

Linda Brent, PhD

Executive Director, Parsemus Foundation

A seated person completing a puzzle of the human head

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than 50 million people worldwide, with the number expected to skyrocket as populations age. While basic research on the biology of the disease continues to increase our understanding of AD, successful treatment regimens remain elusive. Significant research effort is being expended on identifying the early stages of AD so that treatments can be implemented before the disease severely impairs the brain. Other scientists are studying innovative treatment options. Here are a few highlights:

  • A recent publication evaluated the impact of CBD (cannabidiol) on a mouse model of AD. Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia found that two weeks of CBD helped to restore the function of two proteins (TREM2 and IL-33) important in reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque (a hallmark of AD) and improving cognition.
  • Lithium chloride, a compound approved for the therapy of psychiatric disorders, may also improve symptoms of cognitive decline by influencing the beta-amyloid and tau proteins that accumulate in the brain of individuals suffering from AD. Scientists have called for more clinical research to better understand the impact of lithium on AD.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, may be a treatment for mild cognitive impairment and AD, but clinical results are not conclusive. A recent study reported that adequate levels of vitamin B may be needed for positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognition. (Also see our page outlining the study of testosterone and omega-3 supplementation on AD).

We also know that diet and nutrition is related to the incidence of cognitive impairment, likely by influencing inflammatory pathways. See this article for a recent review of the research on the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet.

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