Things we have learned in 2023 about Alzheimer’s research

By Pamela J. Myers, MAOM, BSN, RN

        New research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023 covered the breadth of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research, including advancements in treatment, early and accurate diagnosis, and our understanding of risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
        AAIC is the premier annual forum for presentation and discussion of the latest Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Here are some highlights from the conference:
        • Advances in treatments, clinical trial results. Data results were reported by Eli Lilly from the Trailblazer-ALZ 2 Phase 3 clinical trial of donanemab in early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.
        Convincing scientific evidence was shared that thoroughly removing beta amyloid from the brain is associated with significant slowing of disease progression in people living with early Alzheimer’s. The results of this drug trial also further illustrate that initiating treatment as early as possible in the course of the disease enables the possibility of a bigger beneficial effect, but also that there is potential for slowing of disease progression even when treatment is started later.        • Blood tests: the next frontier in Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Advancements in technology and practice reported for the first time at AAIC 2023 demonstrate the simplicity, transportability and diagnostic value of blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer’s.
        Researchers from University of Gothenburg, Sweden, reported results from a simple, finger prick blood test that shows promise in the ability to detect markers of Alzheimer’s using a single drop of blood. If validated through additional research, this test could offer a quick, noninvasive and cost-effective option.
        Blood tests for Alzheimer’s have great potential for improving early diagnosis, diagnostic accuracy and proper treatment of people with Alzheimer’s.
        • First-ever nationwide estimates of U.S. county-level Alzheimer’s prevalence. The first-ever nationwide estimates of the county-level prevalence of people with Alzheimer’s dementia — in all 3,142 United States counties — were revealed at AAIC 2023.
        Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that the eastern and southeastern U.S. have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s dementia. Higher percentages of older people and Black and Hispanic, all groups at higher risk for the disease, may explain the elevated prevalence in those regions.
        The findings can help guide the allocation of resources to public health programs for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s in those regions.
        For more information about these research studies and other research shared at AAIC 2023, visit or call the local Northwest Ohio Chapter office at 419-537-1999.
        Pamela J. Myers is Program Director for Alzheimer's Association Northwest and Central Ohio Chapters. 


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