It has been called ‘the plague of the 21st century’ for its dramatic increase in numbers and the challenge it poses to health care. There are no effective treatments, merely a handful of drugs that promise only short-lived alleviation of symptoms.
In The End of Memory , award-winning science author Jay Ingram offers a biography of Alzheimer’s, a disease that attacks the brains of its (usually) senior patients. He charts the history of the disease from before it was noted by Alois Alzheimer right through to the 21st century, as researchers continue to fight to find a cure. For centuries, those afflicted by Alzheimer's disease have suffered its debilitating effects while family members sit by, watching their loved ones disappear a little more each day until the person they used to know is gone forever.
As familiar as we are with Alzheimer’s disease among friends and family, there are so many questions: Where did it come from? Why weren’t we talking about it even fifty years ago? Do we understand what really is going on in the disease? A hundred years ago Alois Alzheimer studied the brain of his first patient and identified the key markers of the disease; we still rely on them today. But given the lack of success in treatment, maybe it’s time for a rethink.