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The Hope of Precision Medicine: Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s

There is a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds in the United States. This form of dementia affects more than 10 percent of individuals over 65 years of age. In fact, by the year 2050, an estimated 16 million people in the U.S. will have Alzheimer’s. With an aging population, there is a great need for alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. However, currently, no effective therapies for the condition exist. As a result, experts are actively exploring alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Promise of Precision Medicine

For years, alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have been elusive. Current types of medicine for Alzheimer’s strive to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation to protect brain cells from damage. Others attempt to enhance memory by boosting brain neurochemicals. However, neither categories of medicine for Alzheimer’s have been effective. Researchers are now turning their sights on precision medicine techniques as alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Though it’s early, some have found promising results.

Precision medicine uses a person’s specific genetic profile to select the correct therapy. Though used in cancer therapy, many are optimistic about precision medicine as alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

There is no clear definition of genetic links to Alzheimer’s, so only a few have explored precision medicine for Alzheimer’s. Recently, however, researchers reported the effectiveness of a precision-type medication in a small group of Alzheimer’s patients. It may open up the door for many other alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s in the future.

Development of Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease 

In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain shows specific changes that are hallmarks of the disorder. These include plaques in the brain (composed of Beta-amyloid) as well as tangles of proteins inside neurons (tau proteins). However, while these biomarkers are helpful, they have not helped develop effective medicine for Alzheimer’s. Presumably, a medication for Alzheimer’s that reduces these plaques and tangles will improve memory in patients with the disease.

Alternative treatments for alzheimer's: elderly couple with the woman comforting the man
Alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s, will they be available soon enough?

The drug recently studied, Anavex 2-73, is believed to accomplish this task. This potential medicine for Alzheimer’s works by activating a Sigma-1 receptor on brain cells. In doing so, Anavex 7-23 activates the immune system’s defenses, which reduces Beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles. The researchers also noted that genetics played a role in whether this alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s was effective. Among the 32 participants in the study, the 80 percent who showed a positive response had similar genetic profiles. There is a massive interest in precision medicine among researches, and in developing an array of alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s.

The Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease

To develop alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease using precision medicine, there is a need for genetic links. If specific genetic profiles are not associated with risks for or protection against the disease, precision medicine is not useful. In Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found over 100 genes linked to the condition.

In the pursuit of alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s using precision medicine, this is hardly “precise.” However, researchers are gradually making progress. Their efforts have located 27 specific gene sites associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s at present. As more are found, the use of precision medicine to find alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s becomes more likely.

Experts often describe precision medicine as providing the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. Being able to develop alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s using this model is ideal. A medicine for Alzheimer’s could be tailored to an individual’s genetic profile to halt the disorder. Alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s could prevent their development altogether. The challenge for researchers in Alzheimer’s disease is the condition’s complexity. Genetics is just one piece of the puzzle with several other factors involved in the disease’s occurrence. However, effective medicine for Alzheimer’s would be better than what is available currently.

When Be Will Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease Available?

The FDA “fast-track” any medicine for Alzheimer’s. However, the appearance of new alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s using precision medicine is likely years away. Even Anavex 2-73 needs to be studied in larger groups of patients before approval. Regardless, research is making tremendous gains in understanding the condition and in identifying risks for Alzheimer’s. For now, the best prevention against Alzheimer’s involves exercise, a healthy diet, and an active mind. Precision medicine holds wonderful promise for many health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

One day, it might just offer alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that eliminate it for good.

Oscar Health Insurance Expands with More Google Investment Support

Oscar Health Insurance is the disruptor that no one saw coming in medical insurance. A technology and data-driven company, Oscar has redefined how Americans can access medical care. The company launched in New York in 2012 and since inception, began breaking barriers . Google parent company Alphabet is investing about $375 million in the health startup. The investment established Oscar’s valuation slightly north of $3 billion.  Oscar continues its rank in the coveted Global Unicorn Club.

The Oscar Value

The company has successfully eliminated the friction that comes with seeking medical help. It has harnessed the convenience of modern technology to address the tedious reality of getting healthcare.

Oscar has a wide range of services for its members. First, each member is assigned a concierge, a constant personal team that assists in any part of the process. It includes a nurse and other care guides that provide help on any aspect of healthcare.

Second, the app helps members find doctors and book appointments with just a few taps on their smartphones. A member may search by health issues, specialties, and locations to find the right medical professional. A member can, therefore, find a doctor and book an appointment in just a matter of seconds.

Third, a member can talk to a doctor for free. They can get medical advice and even prescription refills in only 15 minutes. A person may send a picture to describe what is wrong and will get to consult with an on-call doctor at any time. A person doesn’t need to take time off work for a checkup, ultimately saving time, effort, and money. Ninety-one percent of health issues are resolved within preliminary calls. These are unlimited and free so members can use this service as much as they want.

Fourth, the app gamifies exercise. It monitors walking activity through Apple Health or Google Health. Once a member reaches their step goal, they earn $1 toward an Amazon gift card. Those who maintain an active lifestyle can eventually monetize their activity—an excellent incentive for all its members.

Oscar Health Insurance has done to the medical industry what Uber has done to transportation. It has indeed brought a vital service closer to the people and made it intuitive to navigate.

Alphabet Investment Expanding the Oscar Health Insurance

Alphabet has always been a supporter of the six-year-old company. It previously invested in Oscar through the Capital G investment wing and the Verily health and life sciences research wing. In March, Alphabet helped raise $165 million for the startup. Alphabet knows all about Oscar, has seen the company up close, and is excited for the next stage of its expansion. Alphabet now has a 10% share in Oscar, and its board will also be opening its doors to longtime Google Senior Executive Salar Kamangar, who previously served as CEO Google’s YouTube brand.

oscar health insurance and alphabet investment and Google investment on foreground of map
Oscar health insurance continues to expand with more funding from Alphabet

CEO of Oscar, Mario Schlosser, said that the recent round of funding will help them hire more engineers, data scientists, product designers, and clinicians who can help improve healthcare.

Oscar Health Insurance is launching new product lines as well. It only previously offered insurance to individuals and small businesses. But now it’s using its new funding to jump into Medicare Advantage in 2020. It’s an increasingly popular form of health insurance to which senior citizens subscribe. Medicare is a new vertical for Oscar, enriching its focus on individual and employer insurance markets.

The Medicare Advantage plans to merge with the federal government to provide more benefits and services to seniors compared to traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage is designed to provide more comprehensive services for disease management, help hotlines, as well as vision and dental care, and wellness programs.

The New Markets

In June, Oscar Health Insurance announced that it is offering its consumer-focused technology to nine states and 14 markets in 2019. This is double their current footprint. The establishment of six new markets will happen across three states: Arizona, Michigan, and Florida; and three large metro areas in Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. Oscar plans to engage communities, guide their members to the proper care and the best products in the market in each area. Moreover, Oscar also intends to work closely with only the best hospitals and doctors.

Using data from these new markets, Oscar Health Insurance will continually refine the app to understand its consumers better and make better recommendations. With every new release of the app in a new area, the company ensures that it is a stronger product than the last. And because of its confidence in its service to consumers, it has expanded Oscar for Business to Los Angeles. The startup gives cities and states more hope in streamlining healthcare that more places may begin to adopt the app soon.

Oscar Health Insurance’s mission is to make the American health care system work for consumers. It strives to build an engaging member experience that improves medical care and lowers costs to more and more people. Most of all, Oscar will continue to persevere and harness technology to enhance the quality of life and wellness of millions of Americans.