Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alzheimer’s Stalks a Colombian Family


By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

“This is the only place in the world where we can find a family like this, where it’s possible to do prevention therapy more easily,” said Dr. Francisco Lopera, a Medellín neurologist who identified the family’s illness 28 years ago and helped discover its cause, an altered protein on the presenilin 1 gene on chromosome 14: the Paisa mutation.



Colombia appears to be the best option. Mutation carriers always develop Alzheimer’s, and researchers know roughly when. They can give treatment about five years before expected memory loss, then see if brain changes or symptoms occur later or not at all.

Since Colombians with Alzheimer’s are young, without many old-age ailments, they have “cleaner brains that can give a better picture” of whether drugs work, Dr. Buckholtz said.

And the extended family’s single location, large size and similar lifestyles provide enough comparable participants for solid scientific data.

“This is the only place in the world where we can find a family like this, where it’s possible to do prevention therapy more easily,” said Dr. Francisco Lopera, a Medellín neurologist who identified the family’s illness 28 years ago and helped discover its cause, an altered protein on the presenilin 1 gene on chromosome 14: the Paisa mutation.

Scientists consider Colombians not only valuable subjects but also deserving ones. “We’d be giving people at the highest imminent risk of Alzheimer’s access to treatment they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said a project leader, Dr. Eric M. Reiman, director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix.

This New York Times article is interesting and fascinating. The accompanying video is well worth watching. Go here to watch and read more.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,510 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.


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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room