Dr. Jason Karlawish is a co-director of the Penn Memory Center at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and he is the author of a new book on where the science, and the politics, of Alzheimer’s disease now stands, The Problem of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder, and the cause of roughly two-thirds of the cases of dementia. Only this week the family of Jack Hanna, famed animal-behavior expert and television personality, announced that Hanna is suffering from dementia that Alzheimer’s is the likely cause, creating another public face for the disorder. In the United States alone six million people live with Alzheimer’s.
Karlawish’s book makes the point that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is becoming more and more common, because diagnostic techniques are making great strides. Early diagnosis without an available remedy, though, is not entirely a good thing. Karlawish emphasizes that even people with as yet relatively mild cognitive impairments now receive the diagnosis, and this creates real costs in terms of their identity, autonomy, and the treat of stigmatization.
In Pill Form:
Karlawish cautions that though we may be near a treatment breakthrough, there will be no SINGLE treatment breakthrough. Scientists are coming to the conclusion that there are Alzheimer’s diseases, plural, and that in the near future there may be druggable variants, not-so-druggable variants, and utterly undruggable variants.