Are we on the verge of a cure for Alzheimer’s?
That question’s at the heart of a new clinical trial announced recently by the National Institutes of Health. The five-year study will involve an experimental new drug that’s been showing promise in lab tests, because it attacks plaques that develop in the brain, which have been linked to causing Alzheimer’s.
What’s unusual about this new study is the people involved. Most of the participants come from a remote village in Colombia, where Alzheimer’s is a tragic part of life, because almost everyone who lives there develops full-blown dementia by their 50's! Experts have traced the problem to a specific mutation in their DNA, that virtually guarantees they will develop Alzheimer’s at some point, even if they’re perfectly healthy now.
That’s key, because normally, experts say they would not give an experimental drug to healthy people without many more years of testing. But in this case, everyone involved knows they’re at risk, so they feel like they’ve got nothing to lose.
For example: One woman we read about says she lost her mother to Alzheimer’s, and three of her siblings are already showing symptoms.
And check this out: Even though the study will last five years, researchers say they’ll know within two years if the drug is doing what it’s supposed to do. Then, if they can show that it helps delay or stop memory decline, they can immediately start developing treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s.
That’s great news when you consider the disease now affects more than 5 million North Americans! And that number will increase 70-percent within the next 25 years as our population ages.