clearn.png
Friday October 18th, 2019 2:17AM

Studies in healthy older people aim to prevent Alzheimer's

By The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — It may be too late to stop Alzheimer's in people who already have some mental decline. But what if a treatment could target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact, in hope of preventing the disease? Two big studies are going all out to try.

Clinics throughout the United States and some other countries are signing up participants — the only studies of this type enrolling healthy older people.

"The excitement in the Alzheimer's field right now is prevention," said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, which is leading the work.

Science so far has failed to find a drug that can alter the progression of Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia; 146 attempts have failed over the last decade, a recent industry report found. Even drugs that help remove the sticky plaques that clog the brains of people with the disease have not yet proved able to stave off mental decline.

It may be that they were tried too late, like lowering cholesterol after someone has suffered a heart attack whose damage can't be undone, Reiman said.

"What we have been learning, painfully, is that if we really want to come up with therapies that will modify the disease, we need to start very, very, very early," said Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the National Institute on Aging.

His agency is funding the prevention studies with the Alzheimer's Association, several foundations, and Novartis and Amgen, makers of two experimental drugs being tested.

The goal is to try to block the earliest steps of plaque formation in healthy people who show no symptoms of dementia but are at higher risk for it because of age and a gene that makes it more likely.

To participate, people must first join GeneMatch, a confidential registry of folks interested in volunteering for various Alzheimer's studies who are ages 55 to 75 and have not been diagnosed with any mental decline.

They are checked for the APOE4 gene, which doesn't destine someone to develop Alzheimer's but raises that risk. About one in four people have one copy of the gene and about 2 percent have two copies, one from each parent.

More than 70,000 people have signed up since the registry began three years ago, said Jessica Langbaum, one of the Banner study leaders.

"Most of them have been touched by the disease personally," either by having a family member or close friend with it, she said.

Langbaum's 67-year-old mother, Ivy Segal, gave a DNA sample through a cheek swab and joined the registry in August. Her father was a patient at Banner and died of Alzheimer's in 2011 at age 87. Watching him go from a mild-mannered man whose smile could light up a room to what he was like when he died was devastating, she said.

Being in GeneMatch doesn't necessarily mean you'll find out if you have the gene — folks with and without it may be contacted about various studies. But to be in one of the two prevention studies, people must agree to learn their APOE4 status and have at least one copy of the gene.

Participants get periodic brain scans and memory and thinking tests every six months. They are given experimental drugs or placebo versions of them for several years.

One study is enrolling people with two copies of the gene. They are given either shots every few months of a drug intended to help the immune system clear plaque from the brain or daily pills of a drug intended to prevent first steps of plaque formation, or placebo versions of these experimental treatments.

The other study is in people who either have two copies of APOE4 or one copy of the gene plus evidence on brain scans of plaque starting to build. They will get one of two doses of the drug to prevent plaque formation or placebo pills.

Larry Rebenack, 71, of the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, Arizona, joined GeneMatch in August.

"I have a lot of friends and acquaintances I've seen deteriorate," including one who started blowing through stop signs on a route to a golf course they had safely traveled for years, and another who forgot not only where he had parked his car but even what kind of car it was, Rebenack said. "It's a disease that takes a little part of you away each day."

Rebenack has decided to learn whether he has the gene if researchers give him the chance to find out.

"It's like any other piece of information. It helps you plan your life and you owe it to all your loved ones, too."

___

Marilynn Marchione can be followed at @MMarchioneAP .

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Senior Health
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Studies in healthy older people aim to prevent Alzheimer's
Two large studies are trying to prevent Alzheimer's disease by targeting the earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact
12:29AM ( 4 minutes ago )
White House tells FBI it can talk to anyone about Kavanaugh
White House clears FBI agents to interview anyone they want to as they investigate Kavanaugh
12:29AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Democrats question Kavanaugh's credibility, temperament
In a switch in tactics, Democrats raise questions about Kavanaugh's truthfulness when he testified to Congress
12:28AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
North Korea says peace declaration not a bargaining chip
North Korea warns Washington a declaration ending the Korean War shouldn't be seen as a bargaining chip in denuclearization talks
11:56PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Mahomes rallies Chiefs past Broncos, 27-23
Patrick Mahomes rallied the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 27-23 win over the Denver Broncos
11:41PM ( 52 minutes ago )
In neighborhood buried by quake, kin found in final embrace
After Indonesia quake, a son finds a neighborhood buried, and a father and sister trapped in a final embrace
10:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Discoveries that revolutionized cancer care win Nobel Prize
Two researchers from the U.S. and Japan have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries that have revolutionized cancer care and opened an entirely new way to treat tumors
4:52PM ( 7 hours ago )
Medicare upgrades its website ahead of sign-up season
Medicare modernizes its website ahead of annual open enrollment season
4:37PM ( 7 hours ago )
Dutch ban electric carts following crash that killed 4 kids
The Dutch government is banning a type of electric cart used by many daycare centers to transport young children, saying that initial investigations into a deadly collision last month has uncovered "potential security risks" with the vehicles
12:39PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Health
Company wants some Missouri boat death lawsuits dropped
The company that owns the Ride the Ducks operation in Branson is asking a judge to dismiss some of the lawsuits filed after one of its boats sank on a Missouri lake, killing 17 people
9:16PM ( 3 hours ago )
High court denies review of Grand Canyon-area mining ban
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of an Obama-era action that put land around the Grand Canyon off-limit to new mining claims
8:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
Passenger's body found in Pacific lagoon after plane crash
A passenger's body has been found in the Pacific lagoon where a plane crash-landed last week near an island runway in Micronesia
8:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Groups say Medicare discounts threatened in opioids bill
Consumer groups say Medicare discounts for seniors with high prescription bills threatened in opioids bill
4:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Alzheimer's opera 'Sky on Swings' opens in Philadelphia
Alzheimer's disease is explored in Lembit Beecher's 'Sky on Swings,' starring 73-year-old mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and commissioned by Opera Philadelphia for the first night of its season-opening O18 festival
3:51PM ( 1 week ago )
State says seniors were abandoned during California wildfire
A state investigation has found that staff at two senior care facilities abandoned residents during an evacuation as wildfires swept through Northern California last October
10:43PM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
The most dangerous celebrity online is revealed
Ruby Rose has played some dangerous characters but the actress herself is now officially dangerous, crowned the most dangerous celebrity on the internet by cybersecurity firm McAfee
12:23AM ( 10 minutes ago )
The most dangerous celebrity online is revealed for 2018
Ruby Rose has played some dangerous characters but the actress herself is now officially dangerous, crowned the most dangerous celebrity on the internet by cybersecurity firm McAfee
12:20AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Desperation everywhere, aid slow to reach Indonesia victims
Desperation is visible everywhere in areas heavily damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, 4 days after the disaster devastated parts of Indonesia's central Sulawesi island
12:19AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Tropical Storm Rosa heads for Baja, US Southwest
After soaking northwestern Mexico with heavy rains as it neared the Baja California Peninsula, reportedly claiming at least one victim, Tropical Storm Rosa is expected to drench the U.S. Southwest
12:17AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Trump dominated UN, but US nationalism at odds with world
US President Donald Trump dominated this year's gathering of global leaders, but his rejection of "the ideology of globalism" left America almost singlehandedly holding a nationalist banner against urgent calls for the world to work together
12:13AM ( 20 minutes ago )