Studies carried out by Vancouver-based researchers led by Dr Patrick McGeer suggest that if started early enough, a daily regimen of the nonprescription NSAID ibuprofen could prevent the onset of Alzheimer disease (AD).
As of 2016, an estimated 564 000 Canadians live with dementia (expected to rise to 937 000 by 2031). The combined health care system and out-of-pocket costs of dementia is estimated at $10.4 billion—estimated to increase by 60% to $16.6 billion by 2031.
The laboratory of Drs Patrick and Edith McGeer is renowned for 30 years of work in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases, particularly AD. A paper detailing the McGeer’s most recent discoveries (“Alzheimer’s Disease Can Be Spared by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs”) was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
In 2016, Dr McGeer and his team announced that they had developed a simple saliva test that can diagnose AD, as well as predict its future onset. The test is based on measuring the concentration of the peptide amyloid beta protein 42 (Abeta42) secreted in saliva. In most individuals, the rate of Abeta42 production is almost exactly the same regardless of sex or age. However, if that rate of production is 2 to 3 times higher, those individuals are destined to develop AD. Abeta42 is a relatively insoluble material made everywhere in the body but deposits of it occur only in the brain, causing neuroinflammation, which destroys neurons in the brains of people with AD.
Dr McGeer’s team demonstrated that the peptide is made in all organs of the body and is secreted in saliva from the submandibular gland. As a result, with one teaspoon of saliva it is possible to predict whether an individual is destined to develop AD. This allows the opportunity to begin taking early preventive measures such as consuming nonprescription nonsteroidal drugs such as ibuprofen.
Knowing that the prevalence of clinical Alzheimer disease commences at age 65, Dr McGeer recommends that people get tested 10 years prior, at age 55, when the onset of AD would typically begin. If they exhibit elevated Abeta42 levels then, that is the time to begin taking daily ibuprofen to ward off the disease.
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