SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – While major discoveries have been made about most modern diseases, the number of victims of Alzheimer’s disease is actually increasing.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.

Bill Fisher, CEO of the Northern California Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, recently took part in a gathering of the minds on the very topic of Alzheimer’s disease at Stanford University.

He said the common thought that Alzheimer’s is an “old person’s disease” is not necessarily the case any longer.

“Principal risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are genetics and age. But we also see Alzheimer’s in people in their 40s and 50s,” Fisher said. “We estimate somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 people (suffer from the disease) in that age group.”

KCBS Interviews Bill Fisher, CEO of the Northern California Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association:

Fisher said one of the main problems researchers are having is a lack of funding.

“Federal funding in the U.S. is still the largest player. When you talk to the researchers that are involved in this, they believe that we can do this,” he said. “When you go back 10 years ago, there were no treatments in phase two or three trials for Alzheimer’s disease. Today, there are several.”

To that point, Fisher said several drugs have been approved, with some patients benefiting from the treatment.

“There’s not a treatment that’s going to alter or modify the disease at this point,” he said. “But there are four drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration that are symptomatic treatments. About a third of people with Alzheimer’s get some benefit from those medications. But it doesn’t delay the underlying pathology. The disease will continue to progress and it will eventually take this individual’s life.”

Fisher said that as the disease remains a mystery, it also is one of the afflictions most feared by adults, ranking second only to cancer.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (6)
  1. Sidney W. Rosen MD MPH says:

    This article is among the most realistic of the hundreds that are saturating the media. It expresses the frustation that exists among people everywhere in the world. It does expose beliefs that are no longer tenable and we continue to suffer from the lack of preventive or therapeutic measures. It is about time that research is redirected into a new direction. The recent article in the NYTimes exposed the danger of leaving research in the hands of those who seek to prove that Alzheimer’s is the end result of malfunctioning genes.

  2. LaNay Eastman SF Adult Day Services Network says:

    Thank you to the Alzheimer’s Association for their ongoing support and advocacy to protect Adult Day Health Care from being fully eliminated. This possibility is still an urgent issue as so far Gov. Brown and Legislature have yet come to agreement on creating a new ADHC program under a federal waiver, Keeping Adults Free from Institutions (KAFI). Time is running out as ADHC is slated to be fully eliminated by Sept. 1st. Please make noise wherever you can; comments on all related articles, faxes, phone calls to convince Gov. Brown to sign AB 96.

    The impact of closure – 37,000 patients in California will go where? If 13% have Alzheimer’s or other related dementia’s, that is 4,810 patients immediately without daytime support; where do they go? Get ready for more costly hospitalization, emergency room visits, and, where room can be found, in nursing homes! Caregivers will find themselves having to reduce or stop work to care for their loved one. Is this YOUR future?

  3. callsid says:

    I have commented on this article before. I believe that many would benefit from reading my blog on WORDPRESS.COM. We need to appreciate the fact that our present course of research, has not rewarded us with the insight necessary to answer the simple questions: Where does H.Pylori come from? We deserve better than the wild guesses proliferating in the media. The second question is from where does Amyloid come? We have not had any answers. I have provided researched results from some of our most respected educational centers that provide real facts, resulting from scientific research and which are largely ignored because of pressure to find the answer in what is so far failed research. It is apparent to me that the real answers are hidden in plain sight and need to be revealed to the public. Public action can result in better reaults than we are getting in terms of prevention of Alzheimer’s and a few other conditions also caused by H.Pylori infection and still largely ignored.

  4. Lane Simonian says:

    In 1997, Mark Smith and his colleagues discovered that peroxynitrite-mediated damage is widespread in Alzheimer’s disease. Peroxynitrites limit the production of acetylcholine–a compound critical for short-term memory–by oxidating choline transport systems, muscarinic receptors (involved in the uptake of choline), and the enzyme choline actetyltransferase. Compounds that scavenge peroxynitrites, such as rosmarinic acid, eugenol, and minocycline, have all reversed cognitive deficits in animal and other models of the disease. Aromatherapy using peroxynitrites scavengers in essential oils has reversed cognitive decline in human beings in several small-scale clinical trials (see for example the trial conducted by Jimbo and his colleagues in Japan). Individual and instituttional case studies using aromatherapy (the Texas Research Study on aromatherapy, for instance) have also led to improvements in memory, sleep, behavior, alertness, and awareness in Alzheimer’s patients. Essential oils high in methoxyphenols such as rosemary, sage, cinnamon leaf, clove, oregano, and thyme are particularly effective in combating the disease (as I have learned from personal experience with my mother). Furthermore, phenolic compounds (such as those contained in various fruits, vegetables, spices, and essential oils) not only scavenge peroxynitrites and reverse part of their damage, they also inhibit the formation of peroxynitrites and thus prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The means to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease are at hand, all that is needed now is the will by those who have collected millions of dollars to study this disease or for more caregivers to begin to try aromatherapy on their own.

  5. Donna says:

    Numerous neurodegenerative diseases contain misfolded aggregations with prion-like domains due to an increase in beta sheet secondary protein conformation (amyloid protein) or proline rich sections. Proline-rich polypeptides in Colostrinin (extracted from colostrum) reduce amyloid protein.

    Ionizing radiation increases beta sheet protein conformation and easily breaks apart proline polypeptides.


    All known prions induce the formation of an amyloid fold, in which the protein polymerises into an aggregate consisting of tightly packed beta sheets. Amyloid aggregates are fibrils, growing at their ends, and replicating when breakage causes two growing ends to become four growing ends. The incubation period of prion diseases is determined by the exponential growth rate associated with prion replication, which is a balance between the linear growth and the breakage of aggregates.[6] (Note that the propagation of the prion depends on the presence of normally folded protein in which the prion can induce misfolding; animals which do not express the normal form of the prion protein cannot develop or transmit the disease.)




    Effect of gamma-irradiation on the molecular properties of bovine serum albumin.