Treatment of Alzheimer’s


There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, there are ways to temporarily slow the progression of the disease.


In mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine isn’t produced as it would be normally; therefore, for the treatment cholinesterase inhibitors are used. Cholinesterase inhibitors help to boost acetylcholine levels by inhibiting enzymes which breakdown the neurotransmitter. Approximately half of Alzheimer’s patients show benefits from this – but only for a limited time.


In moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, NMDA inhibitors are used. This type in inhibitor blocks glutamate, which in severe AD is released in large quantities by damaged cells, and is toxic to surrounding cells.


These drugs are prescribed based on whether they are: cost effective, efficient, and the severity of the side effects . This is decided by the National Institute for Healthy Clinical Excellent (in the UK) which, inevitably implies they are not always prescribed.


Key Terms

Neurotransmitter – a chemical released into the synapse between one nerve fibre and another. It transfers impulses between nerve fibres through diffusion.

Acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter.

Cholinesterase – an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

Inhibitors –a chemical substance that prevents a process from occurring

Cholinesterase Inhibitors – an inhibitor that prevents the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

NMDA – N-methyl-D-aspartate is very important for controlling memory function, allowing the transfer of electric signals between neurons and the spinal column

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