Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Alzheimer's Research Making Leaps and Bounds


That may be the past and present of Alzheimer's disease, but it is not necessarily the future. Research in the pipeline is cutting away at the disease from various angles.

"There are so many bright lights now compared to 25 years ago," says Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, PhD. Back then, Alzheimer's was often thought to be an inevitable, normal part of aging. Morrison-Bogorad, the associate director of the National Institute on Aging's Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging program, agrees that the possible growth of Alzheimer's disease could be phenomenal in the next decades.

But, like Thies, she's optimistic. "The way research is going, I think we'll have a much better handle on Alzheimer's disease long before 2050," Morrison-Bogorad tells WebMD.

Thies tells WebMD the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are falling into place on a daily basis. "... But there's still some holes in there about what the initial [problem is] ... that starts the disease," and, he says, we still don't understand the genetics of it.

Morrison-Bogorad says Alzheimer's disease is believed to be spurred by a complex mixture of things that could contribute to the risk of getting the disease -- such as age, genetics, head injuries, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, or heart disease. "It's random luck of the draw," she says.

It's probable that both an environmental and a genetic set of factors determine whether a person gets the disease because two different types of brain abnormalities are characteristics of Alzheimer's. Researchers are unsure if the disease causes these abnormalities, or if the abnormalities cause the disease.

There are two medications in trials now that try to reduce one of these abnormalities -- the plaque build-up in the brain of a protein called beta amyloid.

One drug inhibits an enzyme that's a key step in the formation of beta amyloid. "It's like a cholesterol-lowering" drug, according to Thies. "The other trial is the vaccine trial, where a purified beta-amyloid is given, and its been shown in animals ... that you can decrease the amyloid burden on the brain by giving this vaccination," says Thies.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression