Disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer's: Hope or hype?

New Alzheimer's drugs are in clinical trials. Experts advise cautious optimism.

In many ways, Alzheimer's disease is the biological equivalent of a slow-motion train wreck. Studies have revealed that the two hallmark brain lesions in Alzheimer's — amyloid deposits and neurofibrillary tangles — appear decades before telltale symptoms such as memory impairment. (Indeed, an active area of both genetic and neuroimaging research is the identification of preclinical signs of Alzheimer's in the brain, raising the hope of reliable diagnosis for those most at risk.)

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