NeuroEPO: a hope for our memories and a milestone of Cuba’s biotechnology

NeuroEPO: a hope for our memories and a milestone of Cuba’s biotechnology
Fecha de publicación: 
25 March 2022
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The aging of the Cuban population is an aspect of our daily life that is increasingly going from door to door. Our grandparents are the ones who usually spend more time at home, and there are many who, due to the absence of working children or grandchildren, the distance from relatives in other lands or some ailments, suffer from a sense of loneliness that undermine their existence.

They are in charge of going to the grocery store, buying the bread, standing in a line to buy some potatoes or going to the pharmacy to buy their medicine for hypertension, asthma...They also embrace the responsibility of having the grandson's lunch ready so that when he or she leaves for junior high school, he or she can eat and continue the afternoon shift on time. Cleaning the rice, washing clothes and doing the cleaning are also tasks that help them get busy the whole day.

The elderly, although they are privileged to having enjoyed a lifetime, undergoing multiple experiences, keeping a book of personal, family or work history, suffer bitter moments. For them and their caregivers, who also belong to that great section of old age, which, between ups and downs, laughs and tears, defines the end of a story, sometimes clouded by Alzheimer's.

Regarded as the most common form of dementia, when this disease affects one of our grandparents, the same body begins to erase memories of the past, youth, but, at the same time, recent activities, events of the day before, like a cruel attack on the brain, capable of converting talkative, happy and dancing people into almost unknown and mute individuals, who vanish into themselves between empty looks.

They are also hurt and suffer because, between periods of darkness, flashes come to them and they realize the problem. Alzheimer's is the greatest loneliness that my grandmother has had to experience. She does not really know her condition, but in those moments of greater lucidity she confesses to me that she has her head a little lost. What seemed to be a casual oversight, gradually became more acute until triggering greater damage.

She still keeps some memories of her youth, her parents, aunts, her nephews; some come and go, but there are more than a few dates and certain names and events that this illness has erased forever. My grandmother is the same woman she once was. Now she speaks louder, sometimes to the point of yelling and becoming aggressive; she does not like the food she liked. She does not want to eat. She must be insisted in complying with the bathroom and sleep schedules.

There are better days than others, but the bad ones overwhelm her, and they fill us with anguish that, some actions and phrases are repeated over and over again, the same phrases in the same order and the right tone.  This happens when she has breakfast, a snack, or lunch, and after a while she tells you she is hungry because she has not eaten.

Alzheimer's is one of those phenomena that leaves you hopeless because it has no cure, and you do not see the opportunity for your grandma or grandpa to be the one he or she was, or being able to remember your name. However, the news that Cuba is working on a drug with favorable results in improving cognitive impairment has surely encouraged many of us, given the possibility of seeing changes where the expectation was unfavorable.

The nasal medication called NeuroEPO, for mild and moderate Alzheimer's, is a milestone for Cuban biotechnology. According to the Prensa Latina (PL) agency, "54 percent of the patients treated during the clinical trials of the drug NeuroEPO today show significant clinical improvement (...) in a meeting with President Díaz-Canel, the specialists detailed the encouraging results showed improvements in rates of cognitive decline.”

Today, thanks to the efforts of Cuban scientists, NeuroEPO is already registered by Cecmed. "With the registration of this neuroprotective drug, the island would gain sovereignty in the treatment of this disease and the Caribbean nation would achieve a scientific milestone that other countries have not reached (...) in 27 years of experience treating patients with this disease, they had never seen people who improve the natural course of it,” indicated PL.

Since 2013, "Dementia and Alzheimer's disease: a national priority," a study conducted by the Center for Alzheimer's Studies of the University of Medical Sciences of Havana, by Juan de Jesús Llibre Rodríguez, pointed out the need to develop a brand-name drug against this condition. According to data from that year, "in the Cuban population, one in four people aged 65 and over dies from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia."

Fortunately, and for the wellbeing of our elderly and those who need it worldwide, that dream has now been fulfilled to counteract this disease. Llibre Rodríguez, in his report, noted that "it is the first cause of disability in senior citizens in Cuba, and it is the greatest contributor to dependency, care needs, economic overload, and psychological stress in the caregiver."

Likewise, the research, carried out nearly 10 years ago, warned that "if we take into account the accelerated aging of the Cuban population, we estimated a figure of 130,000 people with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, a figure that must be doubled by 2020.” In addition, "in Cuba, in the next 30 years, the costs of dementias will increase three times the current estimated figure of 512 million dollars annually."

According to the web platform, "Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and the ability to think and, over time, the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks. People with Alzheimer's also experience changes in behavior and personality."

Some of its symptoms are: “difficulty finding or expressing words compared to other people of the same age, spatial and vision problems such as not being aware of the space around them, deterioration in reasoning or criteria, which can affect in decisions they make, taking longer to complete daily tasks, repeating questions, having trouble handling money and paying bills, wandering and getting lost, losing or misplacing things in unusual places, showing changes in mood or personality, have more anxiety or be more aggressive.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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