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New Studies Focus on Alzheimer’s Prevention

Imagine a world without cognitive decline. At Senior Helpers Charleston, we would love to see a cure for Alzheimer's and Dementia. However, over the last decade, roughly 146 Alzheimer’s drug trials have failed to find a cure for the disease, but the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, Arizona may have a new approach to staving off the illness: stopping it before it even starts.

The Institute is currently performing a study in which they treat Alzheimer’s before the disease takes effect by monitoring people who are at a higher risk for the disease due to age and genetics. Their theory is that by the time the plaque sets in to the brain, causing memory loss and mental decline, it’s too late. Studies have shown even when these plaques are removed, the brain has already suffered too much damaged to be repaired. This theory is similar to preventing a heart attack before the plaque build up in the arteries causes a heart attack in the first place. Removal of the plaque from the arteries after a heart attack cannot repair the scarring that happens once a heart attack happens - the same is true for the brain.

In order to test this theory, the Institute is currently signing up volunteers who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s for an eight to ten year trial. To sign up for the trial, volunteers must first join GeneMatch, must be between the ages of 55 - 75, and must not have been diagnosed with any cognitive impairment. More than 70,000 volunteers have already signed up for the trial.

The trial is being funded, in part, by the National Institute on Aging and the National Alzheimer’s Association. The trial has several years to go to completion, but what we learn along the way is key to curing this disease by never letting it start in the first place.