In recent years, the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease has rapidly grown. The treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has also advanced thanks to drugs and a host of other treatments. In this article, I interview Dr. Leen Kawas, who is one of the leading experts on Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada and around the world, about what it means for people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or have a loved one with Alzheimer’s to live with hope and dignity.
Overview of the Current Alzheimer’s Landscape
Dr. Leen Kawas is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Calgary, where she researches and treats people with dementia. She also runs a private practice specializing in working with people who have dementia in Calgary, Alberta.
She completed her MD at Western University and her post-grad psychiatric training at Queen’s University in Kingston and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa). Dr. Kawas has done extensive research on the cognitive impairment that arises due to HIV/AIDS and has taught psychiatry residents throughout North America.
Discrepancies in Animal and Human Models
Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease has come a long way. The understanding and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease have improved due to drugs, in addition to a host of other treatments. However, Dr. Leen believes there is a discrepancy between animal and human models regarding the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Snapshot of Emerging Alzheimer’s Drug Therapies
Drug therapies have been advancing. The main drugs are the cholinesterase inhibitors and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists. The new drugs that have come out lately target amyloid plaques. A class of gamma-secretase inhibitor drugs inhibits BACE, an enzyme involved in amyloid plaque formation.
There is a great deal of hope for people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is also a great power to be used when discussing this disease. In the future, Dr. Leen Kawas believes that research will benefit from a view that requires patients and their caregivers to be part of the discovery process.