Last night 60 Minutes did a piece on Alzheimer’s research. While scientists believe they have found the cause, preventative treatment is administered too late. Until now, it’s been impossible to identify individuals who would positively have the disease prior to experiencing symptoms.
Doctors have been able to identify a large extended family in Colombia with a genetic defect positively causing early-onset Alzheimer’s. This provides an opportunity to administer treatment prior to memory loss. They hope this confirms their theory on cause and paves the way for more effective early and late stage treatment options.
This would be a huge breakthrough as research until now how been deemed a total failure. Claudia Kawas has been working with Alzheimer’s patients and is disappointed with the lack of progress. “I have to say I’ve been doing this now for a third of a century. And when I started, I just never would have believed we would still not be closer than we are now to making a real difference.”
“Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s right now, and given the aging baby boomer population, that number is projected to nearly triple by mid-century. Yet unlike many other leading killers, there is no effective treatment. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is essentially a prescription for a slow descent into oblivion — an inexorable loss of the memories, spatial skills, and ability to think that make us who we are.”
-60 Minutes, November 27, 2016