Twin Studies Target on Preventing Alzheimer’s Among the Healthy Elderly

  • Two big studies are trying to discover a treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in people who don’t have mental decline yet but are at risk.
  • Age and having the APOE4 gene increases the risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
  • One copy of the gene is found in about one in four people  and 2 percent have two copies, one from each parent.

Two global researches are going all out to attempt coming up with a treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy elderly volunteers between ages 55 and 75 from clinics across the US and other countries have been signing up in a confident registry called GeneMatch.

The first of its kind, the twin studies aims to try to obstruct the earliest stages of plaque formation in healthy people with no signs of dementia yet, but due to age and a gene, have higher risks of the disease.

Over the last decade, 146 attempts have failed in finding a drug that can modify the progress of Alzheimer’s. Even drugs that help fight mental decline has not yet been proven to be effective.

Executive director Dr. Eric Reitman of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix says that it may be because it’s too late to stop the disease in people who already have mental decline.

“We need to start very,very,very early,” to come up with therapies that will alter the disease, according to chief of neurosurgeon Dr. Eliezer Masliah of the National Institute on Aging.

The two prevention studies are being funded by his agency together with the Alzheimer’s Association, various foundations, Novartis and Amgen.

Since GeneMatch began three years ago, over 70,000 have already enrolled, says Jessica Langbaum, one of the study’s authors. The registry called for interested folks who have not been diagnosed with any mental decline, and should agree to be checked if they have the gene APOE4. Having this gene increases the risk of the disease. One in four people have a copy of this gene with about 2 percent having two copies.

One study consisted of people with two copies of the gene. They are given shots every few months, or pills given daily. The shots were to help the immune system clear plaque from the brain, while the pills prevent the early stages of plaque formation.

The other study involves people who either have 2 copies of APOE4 or one copy plus plaque buildup in the brain. Both will receive one of two doses of the drug to stave off plaque formation or placebo pills.

Periodic brain scans and memory and thinking tests will be administered to the participants every six months. Experimental drugs or placebo versions will also be given to them for several years.

Langbaum says that so many have volunteered  because most have been touched by the disease personally.

Larry Rebenack of Arizona who registered in August, have seen friends deteriorate due to the disease. Hoping to be given the chance to find out if he has the gene, he said that knowing it helps you plan your life, which you owe it to all your loved ones.

Source: Fox News

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