In this medical video learn about the latest developments in Alzheimer's research.
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Jennifer Mathews: More than four million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. Nancy Barbas: Without aggressive treatment and improvement in treatment over the next 50 years or so, by mid-century, there will be as many as 13 million people or more in the United States. Jennifer Mathews: Neurologist Nancy Barbas says treatment is improving. Nancy Barbas: We have targets now to address and to aim our therapies at that we didn't have 20 years ago. Jennifer Mathews: One target is homocysteine, a damaging protein in the brain. A study underway is looking at vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid to reduce the protein. Doctor Barbas is also studying valproic acid to help the agitation and depression that often come with the disease. In other research, Doctor Ernestine Wright says the FDA's approval of memantine last year was a significant step. Ernestine Wright: This is the first time that we've had a medication that can really be used in the later stages of the disease. Jennifer Mathews: Too much of the chemical glutamate prevents new thoughts from processing. Memantine works by blocking that chemical. Doctor Wright says this kind of research will change the face of Alzheimer's in the future. Ernestine Wright: Research really is, you know, geared towards finding ways of preventing and hopefully, one day, we'll have a cure. Jennifer Mathews: Until then, patients can take advantage of the newest treatments to gain just a little more time. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.