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Neurological Disorders Channel
Reported November 4, 2011

Diagnosis to Cure for Alzheimer's

NEW ORLEANS, LA ( Ivanhoe Newswire) --  More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That equals the same amount of people living in the entire state of Minnesota, or Colorado or Maryland. There is no cure.  Early diagnosis is difficult and very few drugs are being tested to slow the progression.  Now, doctors are working on new ways to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease that could be the top game changers of this year.

Lisa Carbo has trouble remembering the simple things.

“My sister will come up and say did you eat?  And I have to go and look in the trash to see if I ate,” Lisa Carbo told Ivanhoe.

She keeps a journal to remember what she had for lunch, and which medicine she’s taken. What Lisa fears most is she won’t remember her granddaughter.

“She’s the best thing in the whole world, she’s the love of my life,” Lisa Carbo said.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, Lisa was already feeling the effects of memory loss and confusion.

“First I lost my relationship because he couldn’t handle it. Then I lost my job, which was horrid to me,” Lisa said.

Lisa’s hoping a new IV drug will stop the progression of her disease.

“It attacks the proteins before they accumulate and form plaques,” Michael Biunno, M.D., from the Louisiana Research Associates, explained.

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by abnormal proteins in the brain.  These new meds are antibodies that attack the proteins that cause plaque buildup. Ed Coleman is hoping the same drug Lisa is taking will change his fate.

“There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s,” Ed Coleman said.

Once a month, for a year, he will get the infusion. 

Doctors believe it could attack the proteins even before they reach the brain,
and stopping this disease is critical.  Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 66% in the last decade, while deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke and HIV all decreased.

Diagnosing it early is key to successful treatment. A way to see Alzheimer’s years before the brain is damaged has been developed.

Doctors inject an imaging compound called AV-45 into patients. Pet scans reveal normal brains and brains full of amyloid plaques –shown in red and orange. 

“I want to find a drug to hold on to where I am now. I may not gain function, but maybe I will!” Lisa said.

From diagnosis to treatment, two breakthroughs that could impact almost all of us sooner or later.

“This could be a game changer,” Dr. Buinno said.

In another recent discovery, a team of researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center found 10 genes that account for half of the genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. They hope identifying patients with these genes could mean earlier treatments.MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on Diagnosis to Cure for Alzheimer's

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview Dr. Michael Biunno

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com

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