Dementia represents a ticking time bomb for our society. Estimates are by 2050, nearly 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, up from 5.8 million today according to reports from the Alzheimer’s Association. A race for the cure is on and today’s story centers on one particular example in the Washington DC area at Howard University Hospital’s Division of Geriatrics.
The Study: Generation Program
Howard University is looking for individuals ages 60 to 75 that have not been diagnosed with any memory impairment but do have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, to enroll in a five-to-eight-year clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a medication that may delay or prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. A principal investigator, Thomas Obisesan, professor of medicine at Howard University Hospital, emphasized the importance of studying those who don’t display dementia symptoms as the disease initiates 15 to 20 years prior to the surfacing of the symptoms.
Study participants will be tested for the gene APOE4, which can increase one’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who test positive will be given either a placebo or the investigational treatment, which aims to prevent the buildup of amyloid-β protein plaques in the brain—a protein present in patients with Alzheimer’s. The research is ongoing.
Lead Research, Howard