Alzheimer’s researcher Peter Davies in the lab.
Searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s psychosis
BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
A Northwell Health researcher’s
quest to fi nd a treatment for
lesser-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s
disease could transform patients’
and caregivers’ lives one day.
Though dementia and memory loss
are still top symptoms for Alzheimer’s
patients, many people with Alzheimer’s
also experience hallucinations,
become agitated and paranoid, and
often can become violent and aggressive
toward their caregivers.
Those symptoms make it even more
diffi cult for caregivers, who are often
family members, to take care of their
Peter Davies is the director of the
Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer’s
Disease and Memory Disorder at
Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute
for Medical Research.
“It’s one thing to deal with someone
who’s losing their memory and losing
their cognitive function,” Davies said.
“It’s another thing to deal with somebody
accusing you of stealing from
them, hitting you, or being verbally
abusive because they are suffering
from this psychosis — which is one
way to describe it.”
Davies and his team are in the midst
of a fi ve-year project, funded with
a half-million-dollar grant from the
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America,
to fi nd a treatment for these specifi c
Currently, medicine for schizophrenia
is the key drug to treat these symptoms.
But schizophrenia treatments
can have dangerous cardiovascular
side effects for the elderly, Davies
noted. Otherwise, there is no other
medical cure for this specifi c aspect of
“Unfortunately, with this disease, as
of now, there’s no cure,” said Charles
Fuschillo, Jr., president of the Alzheimer’s
Foundation of America.
“But A.F.A. does fund research, so we
never give up hope.”
PHOTO BY LEE S. WEISSMAN
A critical early step in the research
process is to breed a mouse on which
researchers can then test treatments.
For the past year and a half, Davies
and his team have been working to
breed a mouse with symptoms of the
behavioral problems associated with
the so-called “psychosis” some Alzheimer’s
patients experience, as well
as other symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are now testing two
classes of drugs. It is too soon to know
if these medications are effective, but
Davies is confi dent the project could
reveal future treatments for Alzheimer’s.
“We have a couple of candidates
that we’re working on in the mice
that we think are quite promising,” he
Davies said he has spoken with two
pharmaceutical companies interested
in his research.
“They see there’s a huge patient
population in need of a treatment,” he
cure now, but
we never give
Schneps Community News Group TVG November 15, 2018 15