To diagnose the disease, a series of tests to detect Alzheimer's exist in the form of questions to detect the various cognitive disorders (memory, attention, language, etc.). There are also tests such as brain MRI and PET scans to visualise changes and dysfunctions in the brain, and even a lumbar puncture to detect markers of the disease.
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Once a patient has been diagnosed, multidisciplinary care is required: medical, psychological and social.

Two types of drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease are currently validated and available, and their effectiveness has been demonstrated, albeit modestly. They help to stabilise symptoms and temporarily slow the progression of the disease.

Among non-medicinal treatments, cognitive stimulation by Alzheimer’s specialist teams and speech therapists is important in strengthening the brain to help it cope with the disease and find palliative solutions to the disability caused.

Speech therapy sessions can help the patient in particular with memory and language, and in developing strategies to overcome difficulties.

Whatever the type of cognitive impairment, patients are encouraged to get involved in intellectual and physical activities: diversifying their activities, practising intellectual activities that patients are not used to doing. We also need to think about “simple” activities in which patients are successful. Cognitive re-education/remedial care helps patients in the early stages of the disease to boost and strengthen their residual abilities.

The social and psychological aspects are crucial to care and treatment. It is essential to provide support for patients and their families, because this disease has an impact on the whole family. Social assistance must be put in place at an early stage, with the key word being anticipation.

Research into Alzheimer’s disease is a very active field. Several trials aimed at testing different treatments are currently underway. Trials aimed at destroying the main lesions observed in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers, the amyloid plaques, have been set up, with results so far contradictory. No significant and lasting improvement in symptoms has been observed, even though the quantity of plaques is decreasing. One possible reason for this failure is that the patients taking part in the trial were at too advanced a stage of the disease. In fact, amyloid plaques are the tip of the iceberg and are present some ten years before the onset of symptoms.

Today, more and more prevention trials are underway in which these plaques are targeted at very early stages of the disease, when symptoms are very mild or even non-existent.


Other Alzheimer’s treatments are being developed that target different components of the disease, such as the toxic Tau protein, neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. These treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are still in their infancy, but it is certain that they will become better tolerated and increasingly effective.


At the Paris Brain Institute


Most approaches developed for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases focus on slowing the progression of the disease and/or treating the associated symptoms. Philippe Ravassard’s group at the Institut du Cerveau is working on the construction of human cell models to enable the development of reparative therapies. Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology makes it possible to obtain, from patients’ skin (or blood) cells, lines of neurons that have all the characteristics of the neurons present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.


These models provide cultured neurons that reproduce the characteristics and specific features of the disease. They are a powerful tool for identifying new therapeutic targets and testing their effectiveness at different stages of the disease (Tau-type degenerative lesions, β-amyloid plaques, etc.).