One in eight Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no cure for the disease but an earlier Alzheimer’s diagnosis can lead to better prevention and treatment methods. Researchers are focusing on genetic testing and stem cell research to find the disease earlier than ever.
“Turning Back the Clock” on Alzheimer’s
A new study from The New York Stem Cell Foundation focuses on the creation of living cells from the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. The new stem cell lines essentially allow researchers to “turn back the clock” to see how Alzheimer’s develops in the brain. Researchers are hoping this study can reveal the exact point when Alzheimer’s begins and will allow the disease to be diagnosed before symptoms appear.
A Focus on Prevention
The study from The New York Stem Cell Foundation will help in identifying Alzheimer’s earlier while biomarker testing can identify those at risk for developing the disease. To date, clinical trials that involve medicating participants with Alzheimer’s have been disappointing, creating the need for a shift to prevention research.
One major study from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute involves those who are at a high risk for Alzheimer’s but have no symptoms. Dr. Pierre Tariot, Director at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute said, “There has been a significant paradigm shift in just the last couple of years. Maybe using these promising experimental agents at a time when the disease has already ravaged the brain is too late, so maybe what we ought to do is intervene at the very beginning, before the damaged has occurred, and before symptoms have emerged. And so that’s a big change. That’s a real pivot in the field.”
The Future of Alzheimer’s Research
Alzheimer’s Disease is predicted to be a global epidemic by 2050, so it is important that we attack the disease swiftly and efficiently. One challenge facing researchers is finding participants for prevention trials, as participants will have not had Alzheimer’s symptoms. To combat this challenge, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute has started an online Alzheimer’s prevention registry where people who want to help fight Alzheimer’s can sign up to be part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative. The initiative hopes to have 250,000 people registered by the time the trials start in 2015.
While the Alzheimer’s statistics can be startling, there is hope in the prevention of the disease, which is promising and exciting.
Have you registered for the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative? Why or why not?
- Why ALZ Researchers Are Shifting Focus From Treatment to Prevention
- The Urgent Need for Alzheimer’s Research Funding
- Resolve to Prevent Alzheimer’s in 2014