While a number of drugs are being developed for Alzheimer's, a new one currently in the clinical trial phase is showing a good deal of promise for those suffering the condition. But as Bart Devon of the National Down Syndrome Society tells American Family News, anyone with an intellectual disability, including Down syndrome, could be barred from the drug.
"Since the whole purpose of doing a [clinical trial] is to generate evidence of how effective this drug can be, not having people with Down syndrome able to participate means that we're not going to have any data generated that will apply to how effective the drug can be for people with Down syndrome," Devon laments.
He explains that people with an extra chromosome are prone to develop Alzheimer's.
"Some of the genetic precursors for developing Alzheimer's disease are on the 21st chromosome, along with some of things that sort of produce some accelerated aging," Devon continues. "They are at a greatly increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease; it's more than 90%."
By the age of 40, the brains of almost all individuals with Down syndrome have significant levels of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which are abnormal protein deposits considered hallmarks of Alzheimer's. Roughly half of all people with Down syndrome will have developed Alzheimer's by their 60s.
The drugs being tested are designed to deal with the underlying causes of Alzheimer's, while current drugs only treat the symptoms.