Neuroscientists say daily ibuprofen can prevent Alzheimer's disease

March 26, 2018, IOS Press
Patrick L. McGeer, M.D., Ph.D. Credit: Kinsmen Lab. of Neurological Research

A Vancouver-based research team led by Canada's most cited neuroscientist, Dr. Patrick McGeer, has successfully carried out studies suggesting that, if started early enough, a daily regimen of the non-prescription NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) ibuprofen can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. This means that by taking an over-the-counter medication, people can ward off a disease that, according to Alzheimer's Disease International's World Alzheimer Report 2016, affects an estimated 47 million people worldwide, costs health care systems worldwide more than US$818 billion per year and is the fifth leading cause of death in those aged 65 or older.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are more than 5 million cases in the United States alone, with a new case being identified every 66 seconds. The annual cost to the country in 2017 is estimated have been $259 billion, with that figure predicted to potentially rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Dr. McGeer, who is President and CEO of Vancouver-based Aurin Biotech, and his wife, Dr. Edith McGeer, are among the most cited neuroscientists in the world. Their laboratory is world-renowned for their 30 years of work in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease. A paper detailing Dr. McGeer's most recent discoveries were published Friday in the prestigious Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

In 2016, Dr. McGeer and his team announced that they had developed a simple saliva test that can diagnose Alzheimer's disease, 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 Abeta 42 production is almost exactly the same regardless of sex or age. However, if that rate of production is two to three times higher, those individuals are destined to develop Alzheimer's disease. That is because Abeta42 is a relatively insoluble material, and although it is made everywhere in the body, deposits of it occur only in the brain, causing neuroinflammation, which destroys neurons in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Contrary to the widely held belief that Abeta 42 is made only in the brain, 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 as little as one teaspoon of saliva, it is possible to predict whether an individual is destined to develop Alzheimer's disease. This gives them an opportunity to begin taking early preventive measures such as consuming non-prescription non-steroidal drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.

"What we've learned through our research is that people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's exhibit the same elevated Abeta 42 levels as people who already have it; moreover, they exhibit those elevated levels throughout their lifetime so, theoretically, they could get tested anytime," says Dr. McGeer. "Knowing that the prevalence of clinical Alzheimer's Disease commences at age 65, we recommend that people get tested ten years before, at age 55, when the onset of Alzheimer's would typically begin. If they exhibit elevated Abeta 42 levels then, that is the time to begin taking daily ibuprofen to ward off the disease.

"Unfortunately, most clinical trials to date have focused on patients whose cognitive deficits are already mild to severe, and when the therapeutic opportunities in this late stage of the disease are minimal. Consequently, every therapeutic trial has failed to arrest the disease's progression. Our discovery is a game changer. We now have a simple test that can indicate if a person is fated to develop Alzheimer's long before it begins to develop. Individuals can prevent that from happening through a simple solution that requires no prescription or visit to a doctor. This is a true breakthrough since it points in a direction where AD can eventually be eliminated."

Explore further: Personality changes during transition to developing mild cognitive impairment

More information: Patrick L. McGeer et al, Conquering Alzheimer's Disease by Self Treatment, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (2018). DOI: 10.3233/JAD-179913

Related Stories

Personality changes during transition to developing mild cognitive impairment

January 23, 2018
A key feature of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss and losing one's ability to think and make decisions (also called "cognitive ability"). Those changes can begin slowly, during a phase called "mild cognitive impairment" ...

New forecast shows 6 million with Alzheimer's disease, cognitive impairment

December 8, 2017
Using new methodology, scientists calculate that approximately 6 million American adults have Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment, which can sometimes be a precursor to the disease. The estimate, funded by the ...

Five million american seniors now living with alzheimer's

March 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Alzheimer's disease claims nearly twice as many American lives annually as it did just 15 years ago, according to the 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, published March 7 by the Alzheimer's Association.

New approaches to understanding Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease

July 26, 2016
In a study presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2016, researchers at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute have explored how some people may develop the hallmarks of Alzheimer's ...

Research points to new treatment strategy against Alzheimer's disease

September 7, 2016
New research suggests that Alzheimer's disease may trigger increased expression of an enzyme called lysozyme, which attempts to counteract amyloid build-up in the brain.

Use of prescription analgesics differs significantly between persons with and without Alzheimer's

November 29, 2016
Approximately one third of persons with Alzheimer's disease use prescription medicines for pain after their diagnosis, reports a recent study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. The use of analgesics was as common ...

Recommended for you

Researchers classify Alzheimer's patients in six subgroups

December 5, 2018
Researchers studying Alzheimer's disease have created an approach to classify patients with Alzheimer's disease, a finding that may open the door for personalized treatments.

Neuroscientists pinpoint genes tied to dementia

December 3, 2018
A UCLA-led research team has identified genetic processes involved in the neurodegeneration that occurs in dementia—an important step on the path toward developing therapies that could slow or halt the course of the disease. ...

Detecting signs of neurodegeneration earlier and more accurately

November 30, 2018
Signs of neurodegenerative diseases, appearing years before the emergence of clinical manifestations, can be detected during the examination of medical samples by means of fluorescence microscopy by using new sensitive and ...

Never-before-seen DNA recombination in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease

November 21, 2018
Scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have identified gene recombination in neurons that produces thousands of new gene variants within Alzheimer's disease brains. The study, published today ...

New information on the pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease

November 21, 2018
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a mechanism by which harmful tau protein aggregates are transmitted between neurons. Alongside amyloid plaques, tau aggregates in the brain are a significant factor ...

DNA vaccine reduces both toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer's

November 20, 2018
A DNA vaccine tested in mice reduces accumulation of both types of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to research that scientists say may pave the way to a clinical trial.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym356455
not rated yet Mar 26, 2018
has anyone ever looked at the consistently elevated folic acid levels in these patients
Bogie99
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2018
Trade Alzheimer's for heart attack or stroke, since ibuprofen stiffens arteries. Maybe this is how to prevent Alzheimer's, die from something else before it sets in?

Bizarre how this site and media in general is so quick to promote the use of painkillers, just as long as it's not opioids. Sensational hypocrites.
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Mar 27, 2018
Google side effects of long term use of Ibufrofen
BoatRocker
1 / 5 (1) Apr 02, 2018
This public service announcement brought to you by...
Johnson & Johnson, makers of Tylenol and Tylenol PM
BoatRocker
1 / 5 (1) Apr 02, 2018
Wait, that's not right.
Ibuprofen is Advil and such.
Oh well. I was never any good a keeping track of these near poisons.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.