I knew Alzheimer’s was somewhat mysterious, but I had no idea it was so interesting.
Jebelli covers all the bases in this up-to-date book; the original discovery of Alzheimer’s as a distinct disease, the research that has led to our understanding of the condition now, the possible preventative measures we can take against the condition, the experiments and discoveries that have been made and are being made right now to try to come up with new and better treatments for patients with Alzheimer’s. And woven in with all this information are some personal stories of patients and their families. The author, himself, has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s through his grandfather.
Some of the things I learned:
- Alzheimer’s was first “discovered” in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer after performing an autopsy on the brain of a 56-year-old patient.
- Once upon a time, dementia and other such conditions used to be treated by “trepanation“, drilling holes into the skull to release evil spirits!
- “Scientists are not absolutely sure what causes Alzheimer’s but plaques and tangles are prime suspects in cell death and tissue loss in the Alzheimer brain.” The plaques and tangles tend to start out in the learning and memory area of the brain, then spread out from there.
- The first idea for Alzheimer’s treatment came from the deadly toxin, Sarin, which was used to kill approximately 5000 people near the end of the Iran-Iraq war. March 16, 1988. A neuroscientist named William Summers was interested in Tacrine, which acted on neurotransmitters in the brain in the same way. His research eventually led to the drug now used to treat Alzheimer’s, Aricept. Aricept is used to improve cognition in the patient, but does not prevent progress of the disease.
- Drug candidates for Alzheimer’s have had a 99.6% failure rate.
- Our genome is 99% identical to that of a mouse. Makes you think for a minute, doesn’t it?
- “In a single day, human blood travels through 96,000 kilometres of capillaries, veins and arteries – enough to encircle the globe four times.”
- One of the first things Alzheimer’s patients may experience is “anosmia“, the partial or near total loss of smell.
- In Columbia, home to the largest population of Alzheimer’s victims on the planet, Alzheimer’s is still stigmatized and referred to as “La Bobera”, which means “the foolishness”.
- One in three of us will develop Alzheimer’s. “If things continue this way, epidemiologists estimate that the total number of Alzheimer’s cases will double every twenty years, making dementia the next global pandemic.”
- Eat turmeric… just in case. (It contains curcumin, which is thought to improve the cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.)
The best thing about this book is that it’s full of hope. You would not believe the research and experiments and ideas that are going on around the world to get to the bottom of this disease. It’s just a matter of time.
In Pursuit of Memory includes a list of resources for families, carers and patients.
… Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects families. Its symptoms engulf those around it, causing emotional turmoil for family members who can do nothing but watch while their loved ones – hearts still pumping, breath still flowing, eyes still open – slowly slip away forever.