Skip to main content
Home » Wellness » Brain Health » Prominent Researcher Says That New Alzheimer’s Therapies Offer Hope
Brain Health

Prominent Researcher Says That New Alzheimer’s Therapies Offer Hope

Dr. Sandra Black

Scientific Director, Dr. Sandra Black Centre For Brain Resilience and Recovery

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal disease, but recent research breakthroughs have led to drugs that can potentially slow its progression.

Dr. Sandra Black leads the Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience and Recovery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. As a cognitive neurologist, she works at the forefront of research in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Mediaplanet recently sat down with Dr. Black to learn more about her work as a researcher and clinician, the types of patients she’s seeing, and how the new disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s offer hope for the future. 

Q&A bubble
What types of patients are you seeing in your clinical practice?

Typically, I see people in the early stages of the disease who are showing mild memory problems. They may also have wayfinding and word finding difficulties and some trouble with complex daily activities like banking or shopping, but can still manage their personal self-care. Some may present with perceptual problems, too, where they can’t find their way or negotiate stairs, or exhibit behavioural changes like withdrawal, apathy, or depression.

Q&A bubble
What kinds of treatment have been available up until now?

The drugs we currently have available offer only symptom management. They may help the patient focus attention or remember something, but they don’t have much effect on the disease progression. 

Q&A bubble
What impact will the new class of disease modifiers have on Alzheimer’s disease?

These new amyloid targeted therapies offer the possibility to modify the disease and slow down its progression in people who are just starting to show evidence of memory loss while still managing daily activities, or just starting to need more help with those activities.  

Q&A bubble
Are these medicines for everyone?

No. They’re suitable only for people at the very early stages when there are still lots of circuits functioning in the brain, and not everyone will qualify. Before administering the drug, patients may need MRI scans to ensure they don’t have any microbleeds or other issues that could signal that the brain can’t clear the amyloid properly.  But they do offer a ray of hope if we can get the drug to the right patients early on.

Q&A bubble
Can you share any research insights that may help caregivers looking after someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Try to be patient and understanding, especially when they’re in the early stages and starting to forget. Getting irritated and impatient is like an assault for them. They genuinely don’t remember.

Q&A bubble
How can people protect their own brain health?

Exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep are very important. Deep sleep is especially important because that’s when your brain is literally pumping out toxins, including amyloid protein. Also, make sure you get enough social engagement and interaction like caring for people, entertaining, volunteering, and having hobbies. These activities have been shown to stimulate the brain circuits and create a feeling of belonging.

Learn more about Dr. Sandra Black’s research  

This article was made possible with support from Lilly Canada.  

Next article