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Team NCSU clinches the Silver Medal at the iGEM Grand Jamboree 2023!
2023 has been a landmark year in Alzheimer’s disease (AD)_ therapeutics. These have brought a glimmer of hope to those grappling with the devastating disease. However, these come at an astronomical cost providing a brief respite from cognitive decline.
Current treatment options for the disease focus on reversing late stage neuronal damage and alleviating symptoms, rather than preventing neurodegeneration in the first place. These two approaches — prevention versus late-stage reversal — don’t even fall within the same realm of difficulty.
|Late Stage reversal
|The effectiveness of prevention-based strategies has been shown in studies such as the 'Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability,' commonly known as FINGER. The landmark trial involving more than 1,200 people has significantly outperformed any drug trial to date by tackling dementia prevention from multiple angles, ranging from nutrition to social activity. After two years, the group assigned to the prevention strategies did 25% better than the control group on an assessment of overall cognitive performance.
|Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, whose levels in AD are significantly lower compared to normal cognition. Acetylcholinesterase (AchE) is an enzyme that modulates acetylcholine levels, as a result AChE inhibitors have become the most common form of AD treatment, to increase levels of acetylcholine. This allows brief symptomatic relief. Examples include galantamine, rivastigmine, and donepezil.
|The success of the FINGER trial has inspired the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk, or POINTER.
|Leqembi (Lecanemab-irmb) and Aducanumab are amyloid beta targeting monoclonal antibody therapies that have received accelerated FDA approval. These therapies slow cognitive and functional decline.However, they are expensive and could have sizable side effects.Thereby, they remain a hot topic of debate within the scientific community.
Humpty Dumpty is an apt analogy here, just as it's easier to prevent his great fall than to mend him afterward, we prioritize preserving brain cells while they're healthy rather than attempting to restore them once they're lost.
Beyond battling Alzheimer’s disease, Team NCSU would like to champion a paradigm shift in healthcare. We are advocating for a system that values prevention over reaction, a system that invests in extending health rather than just treating disease.
The puzzle of Alzheimer's is intricate, our solution is prevention and neuroprotection, fueled by pioneering science and compassionate care.