Discovery doubles genetic clues to Alzheimer's
April 3rd, 2011
04:29 PM ET

Discovery doubles genetic clues to Alzheimer's

Two new reports in Nature Genetics detail the discovery of five new pathways for detecting Alzheimer's disease, the memory-stealing brain illness that is especially prevalent among the elderly.

Previous research had identified five genes linked to Alzheimer's disease, or AD. The combined efforts of an international consortium of researchers has raised those known genetic markers to 10.

"We've really doubled the number of clues we have about late-onset AD. We have a lot left to do to complete the story of AD genetics, but this is a big step," said Professor Gerard D. Schellenberg of the University of Pennsylvania, lead researcher for one of the studies.

"Almost as important as the genes discovered is the fact that a large number of investigators are working together to solve the genetics of AD," Schellenberg said. "We just started an international consortium, IGAP (International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project), so all the groups that produced both papers are now collaborating."  IGAP includes scientists from four university research groups and creates a shared database that includes genetic information for more than 40,000 patients.

"Of course, I am a bit biased, but I think this is a big deal," Schelleberg said.

While the new genetic findings are far from being a cure for Alzheimer's, Dr. Bill Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association praised the findings of both studies, noting their strong methods.

"In the genetics world we've had a history of small samples," Thies said. "The fact that we've confirmed some genes in a large group means that it's real, not a statistical anomaly." The IGAP will continue to share genetic findings, he said, with the hopes  their research findings will offer keys to unlocking information about all of the routes that Alzheimer's takes in the body. "The more pathways that we can explore will allow us to make progress for preventing and treating AD eventually."

Schellenberg said research is at a "critical point" in Alzheimer's treatment.

"Much attention has been focused on therapies that target A-beta production," better known as brain deposits that cause plaques and tangles, gumming up the brain's machinery, he said. But the new genetic findings look at new pathways that merit further study, including one that confirms a previous theory that focuses on the metabolism of cholesterol. Another important theme in the new research is that  "innate immunity" is important in relation to disease susceptibility. That's the theory that  Alzheimer's could be part of the body attacking itself because it perceives a threat to its protective immune system.

"This is a really important idea that needs to be followed up," he said.

5.2 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association, which estimates that by 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease.

soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. jjww

    Why do they never include the references?

    April 3, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      I decided to report Jessy. I'm tired of that type of crass response.

      April 3, 2011 at 18:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Because it is not a journal article, it is written by a journalist for the general population. However, the writer states that the study was done at the University of PA. and gives the name of the lead researcher. You can look it up on line, I did.

      April 3, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Most likely no references in this case because it is pre-publicaiton information. But the article sites 'Nature Genetics' – a quick search there finds it's web site, which has some advance publication articles. To read them you'll need to pay or have access through a subscription. But the two articles I found are:


      You can at least read the abstracts.

      April 3, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  2. bobster26

    It would sure be nice to have a cure, my dad died from this zombie disease. keep-up the good work, your bound to get a cure.

    April 3, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Taylor

      Agreed. My Mema (grandma) is suffering from it right now and it sucks. My one grandma died from a 25 year battle with cancer but at least she was lucid the whole time so we got to enjoy her company in the end (though cancer is terrible all the same). But my Mema has even started to forget her husband of 55 years' name. Very soon I think she will forget us all and its sad to think she will be alive but not really living.

      April 4, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
    • Andrea

      Very sad. My great grandmother recently passed from AD. In the end she called everyone sweetheart, and would try to hit her daughter (my gma). Had to clue what was going on or what she was doing. Hope they find a cure!

      April 4, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Yes, I would love to see a cure. My Mom is 53 and is already in the severe stage of this terrible disease.

      April 6, 2011 at 22:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Kay

    My husband was diagnosed two years ago at age 65 with early dementia. He has a very good neurologist and is following the prescribed medications and activities, but I see him gradually losing ground. I'm thrilled at every advance, but know it will probably be too late for us. Though we try to keep our sense of humor, I don't see this as a joking matter.

    April 3, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • musicihear

      Best wishes to you and your husband. Thanks for your comment.

      April 3, 2011 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
    • str8whtguy

      Kay: all the best to you. Stay strong. There are people around you who will help you!

      April 3, 2011 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
    • RD

      Best of luck to you. My grandmother has had this for 15 years now, and there are definitely ways to help slow the onset down. Honestly, the best thing you can do is have the right mindset. I've seen my mom go through this with her mom.. humor and love will go a long way.

      April 4, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
    • smossa

      I am research coordinator there are some trials you can get him involved in. There are some patients that came in our trials that are the same as they started the trial over 2 yrs ago.

      April 4, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  4. admiral149

    My wife has been suffering from this disease for at least eight years. She was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago. She is 58 years old and has no future. I am the only person that she can recognize. Without a cure, it is tough to say that I would have wanted to know fifteen years ago that my wife has this terminal disease. We enjoy every day that we have left together, focusing on what we can still do. Alzheimer's disease has become a catch all pop diagnosis for memory loss in old folks, but, it is a terminal disease that effects many many people in their middle years too. It is a killer disease in otherwise healthy people like my wife who has no high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or drug or alcohol problems.

    April 3, 2011 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • musicihear

      It must be very difficult being the only one your wife recognizes. Stay strong and best wishes.

      April 3, 2011 at 20:11 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I've known a few people who suffered from the disease. I can't think of a more monsterous disease than this.
      One poor man that I was around, during my clinical rotation, had to be informed several times a day that his wife passed away 15 years before, to see him grieve all over again. The staff HATED it, but he became frantic until he was told.
      May they find a cure VERY, VERY soon.

      April 3, 2011 at 23:36 | Report abuse |
    • Wolf'sComing

      @Wzrd1 – that's horrible that the staff would tell that man that his wife died especially if he would ask several times a day. That's just cruel, I don't care how frantic he got. Tell him that she's down the hall getting lunch, just went to the bathroom, anything other than that she died. My father suffered from dementia from Parkinson's and my mother has early stages dementia now. When she asks where he is or if her parents are still alive, I always tell her something other than that they are dead. At times she gets upset and wants to see them but most times it satisfies her for awhile. Even when she's upset eventually she will focus on something else and calm down.

      April 4, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse |
    • Pestilent1

      @ Wzrd1: I don't know whether to say "Jesus wept" or "There is no God" in response to this suffering. Poor soul had to grieve the loss of the love of his life several times a day? I heart can't stop crying...

      April 4, 2011 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
    • Been There Too

      Say "Jesus wept", for indeed, he was crying because of the suffering he was seeing. Oh, how I've studied suffering in the Bible! After going through so very much (mother died young of Alzheimer's, sister has severe mental illness, late stage breast cancer for me, along with serious and horrible auto-immune diseases, and my husband's been out of work for two years), and being angry at God, I finally realized He DOES care, very much. He uses the suffering we face because we brought sin into the world, to make us stronger and better, and yet, He hates to see us suffer. But at least He promises to make everything better than all right for those that trust in Him, and He never breaks His promises.

      April 4, 2011 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
    • Peace2All


      Sorry that you had to witness that brother...


      April 4, 2011 at 02:00 | Report abuse |
    • unretired05

      My mother-in-law passed in her mid 60's. In hind site we could go back and see indications several years before her diagnosis. Enjoy every day you've got. I hope she never forgets you and that you can laugh together every day.

      April 4, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  5. Janet

    Both of my parents died of this terrible disease. Neither one planned for what would happen near the end and ended up miles away from family in a care facility, ironically the same one, where they passed away within months of admission. I would jump at the chance to know what might fate will be.

    April 3, 2011 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. momgonenutz

    No, it's not a joking matter...but if you don't joke about it sometimes, it can destroy you...if you are, or were a caregiver.....I became on after my mother was diagnosed. She started with her symptoms back around 1987 and was diagnosed in '92. and came to live with my family in '93....At some point we had to place her in a nursing home, and that just about totally destroyed me.... my emotional state, my family, and the stress did destroy my health. .....My kids were still young , and they they never knew their grandfather, and only one remembers my mom. I am a new grandmother, and I want to be able to enjoy my granddaughter, and all to come....

    And I am so glad they are making so many strides in that direction. The one thing upsetting for me was with one of their discoveries, Alzheimer, Parkinsonson, and Diabetes, are all on one gene! I already have diabetes....

    I am praying I am not a 65 or 70 yr old diabetic who can't remember where she's going, falls on the way, and forgets to take her insulin...and that's not a joke.

    But I do joke and laugh sometimes because I can be in mid-sentence, and totally forget what the topic is, or drive in the wrong direction, because I forget where I am going. If I don't laugh about it, I would cry.

    April 3, 2011 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • unretired05

      Sounds all too familiar. I understand that if you don't laugh you will cry. Laughter is a brief but necessary respite from the sad reality of this disease.

      April 4, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  7. Mystic River

    You're an idiot. When you or someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I hope you're met with slightly more compassion than you are able to show here.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jayne

      My mother has Alzheimers from a long-time poor diet. Totally preventable if we had known what happens to the brain when you live on carbohydrates. My husband is showing signs from old brain injuries. Totally preventable, if the coaches didn't send him back in to play football with mild concussions. Don't tell me I have no compassion or understanding. It's ignorance that keeps us paying the pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals for treating only the symptoms of preventable and curable diseases. In the meantime, our national health continues to deterioate while they enrich themselves.

      April 4, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Brenda Hall

      My daughter is a research geneticist doing cancer research. They study the core development of disease, where it begins and how to stop it. (alzheimer's is one of her rotations). She told me just yesterday that they lost government funding due to budget cuts. Funding is a serious problem in research and they couldn't afford to lost what little they were getting. We need to find a way to get more money to these studies.

      April 16, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jayne

      My mother has Alzheimers from a long-time poor diet. Totally preventable if we had known what happens to the brain when you live on carbohydrates. My husband is showing signs from old brain injuries. Totally preventable, if the coaches didn't send him back in to play football with mild concussions. Don't tell me I have no compassion or understanding. It's ignorance that keeps us paying the pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals for treating only the symptoms of preventable and curable diseases. In the meantime, our national health continues to deterioate while they enrich themselves.

      April 4, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Betty P

      I totally agree, my mom also has it and i know there is so much we can do to delay the onset of Alzheimers, especially diet and exercise. I read a new book on this by a doc I saw last month on the Today Show that covers treatment and prevention tips (www.theadplan.com), i have totally change the foods i eat and am following the diet in the book. i think you need to start as early as possible with changing the way we live to prevent this terrible diseasde later.

      April 4, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Darcy

      Jayne, I disagree with your assertion that nothing is being done to treat the purported "causes" for Alzheimers that you have cited. As for niacin deficiency, do you eat bread? If so, chances are, you're getting enough niacin in your diet – from a carbohydrate source, even. Scientists and the government have enriched foods where certain minerals would never normally be found so that people will have a better chance of getting necessary nutrients even if they eat poorly. Consider iodized salt, for another example. Organizations like the CDC in Atlanta publish reccomendations about health and prevention of chronic disease – there's even an entire national center dedicated to this concept! I would venture to say that doctors and hospitals quite often try to tell us to lose weight or change our diets. It is foolish to accuse these organizations of enriching themselves when it's in large part their jobs to treat the symptoms of disease, after attempting to help us change our life styles to decrease social or environmental risk factors.

      April 4, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  8. Maggie

    I enjoy reading these medical stories. I just read a great book, "Stories from the Emergency Department", about remarkable ER patients. It is on Amazon.com, and is a truly remarkable book.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      Go and peddle your wares elsewhere, twit. You've got some class to come into a thread like this and make a post in the hopes of turning a buck.

      April 5, 2011 at 06:17 | Report abuse |
  9. musicihear

    Alzheimer's disease is much more prevalent than it has been depicted in the past. With much focus on research and raising awareness, the huge impact of this disease is swiftly being realized on a larger scale than ever before. This article is great news.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rachael

    My grandmother has been suffering with this for about 8 years now. This elegant lady who was so concerned with dignity and ladylike behavior is now aggressive and has all sense of modesty. Her behavior has took such a toll on her as well as her husband and her three girls. My grandmother was healthy her entire life and this has practically robbed her of who she was. It is so sad to see her this way. I used to think the worst way to go was fast because it did not give your loved ones a chance to say goodbye but this is torture for her and we can't make it better which kills me. It's like you never want to say goodbye to someone you love but then you can't stand to see them tormented either. I wish our governments could spend all the money that are spending on senseless wars on finding cures for diseases like this. I know everyone must die but they shouldn't go in agony or not knowing who they are. One day we shall all stand in front of our Lord including politicians, athletes, movie stars, and people who waste millions on "toys" and He will say what good did you do with the time I gave you. If we all put our money where our mouth is we could change the face of diseases like this. Our world is getting darker by the day with the lack of compassion for our fellow man. We are all brothers and sisters with blood that runs red and we alll suffer to see our loved ones tormented by ruthless diseases that can be cured. I wish many more people would understand the simplicity in that we are here because God has given each one of a test and that is to love each other and leave the world a better place when we leave it. It's not about houses,or cars, or what name brand your clothes are. You can't take any of that crap with you. But you can take goodness and mercy with you and that is all God cares about.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • An Adult with Autism

      My grandmother was very aggressive at one point to and it turned out to be a medicine that she was not reacting well with. Maybe check the side effects of any/all her meds to see if this is one and then have it changed! My grandmother is sooo much better today. Still not the lady I knew but unfortunately she will never be.

      April 3, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • Willowspring

      Beautifully said Rachael. In the final analysis, all that matters is how we have lived our lives. Did we do the good that God expected of us?

      April 3, 2011 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
    • SarahRN


      While these cognitively impaired and contiunuously mentally declining individuals are undoubtedly suffering, God has left them here on earth for us cognitively intact people to care for them and continue to enjoy their presence. I am always heartbroken for what those individuals have to go through and what their families and friends must endure. At the same time, however, everyone on this earth is suffering in some way. Does this mean the lives of the demented are not worth living, or is no life worth living because the world is just too cruel? I believe everyone's life has worth, no matter how much they have changed mentally or physically. Even though it's not pleasant for the individuals with Alzheimer's or their loved ones, and sometimes it might feel like hell living this way, someone who is cognitively impaired can still have a high quality of life if we (their loved ones, caregivers, and even total strangers) are willing to give them the life they deserve. What breaks my heart more than seeing someone suffering with dementia/Alzheimer's is seeing their loved ones and caregivers and the rest of society give up on them, only to drop them off on the doorstep of my geropsych unit with the hope to not have to "deal with" them anymore. What they need is the love that we can offer them that comes straight from God and we have the ability to give them time, patience, and understanding for the situation they are in. We need to focus more on what they are ABLE to do, rather than what they are no longer able to do. They have given us so much throughout their lives and they are still capable of offering us so many gifts (even if it's just a disorganized story that may or may not have ever occurred). The least we can do for them is to never give up on them. We definitely do need to find a cure, but, in the meantime, we need to support them in every way possible to ensure that they have our love and the quality of life they deserve as human beings.

      I have also had a grandmother with Alzheimer's. Currently, I am an RN on an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit and I absolutely love caring for the many patients with dementia/Alzheimer's I have. Nothing makes me happier when I'm at work than to put a smile on their faces. "An adult with autism" is absolutely correct. Your grandmother might just need to have a doctor that specializes in neurology and/or psychiatry tweak her meds until they can find the right balance that will take away most of her aggression. The majority of my "psych" cases I receive on my unit are actually individuals who are having psychotic episodes with their dementia. They stay here with us for a week or two (or in some cases longer) until the psychiatrist is able to find the right balanced medication regimen for each patient. It does work in most of the cases, so just keep trying with your grandmother. Research the medications yourself and keep your family actively involved as much as possible. Medscape is one great source of information. You don't have to say goodbye to your grandmother just yet, you can still appreciate the extra time God has given you with her and vice versa. Best of luck to you!

      Everyone reading this should ask themselves "What have I done for someone suffering from Alzheimer's or any other debilitating illness lately?" Sometimes all it takes to make a difference is eye contact and a smile... 🙂

      April 4, 2011 at 02:07 | Report abuse |
    • NoNewInformation

      People who haven't been there, done that, just don't understand, Rachael, but I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      April 4, 2011 at 04:22 | Report abuse |
    • NoNewInformation

      And SarahRN, you're a Godsend! You obviously care about your patients, and I hope people will heed your advice; let's not give up on loved ones with this horrific disease. Let's do what we can for them - mostly love them.

      April 4, 2011 at 04:30 | Report abuse |
    • RD

      Wow. SarahRN, thank you for your comments. I had the same experience (aggressiveness) with my grandmother. It turned out to be a reaction to one of her medications, so I'm sure you can alleviate this behavior a bit. SarahRN, I really enjoyed what you had to write. I've seen my grandmother go from herself, to forgetful, to impaired. It is a tough sight to see. More people with your outlook are needed. Unfortunately, I don't completely share it(as much as I would like to). My grandmother has not known my name for years, but I every once in awhile she would look at me and I knew she knew.. if even just for a split second.. who I was. It was a great feeling. Now she can no longer say any words and these moments of clarity are gone. I don't want to come across as cruel, I love my grandmother, but I feel like her time needs to come to a peaceful end. Not for me, but for my mother. She stills enjoys visiting her mom a few times a week, but I can tell it weighs on her heavily.

      I wish everyone who knows someone with or has AD the best of luck. I have enjoyed the journey with my grandmother.. we have all had a positive outlook and approached this situation with love. SarahRN is right, look at things as what they have left left to give. Those moments of clarity brought me more joy than anything I can remember

      April 4, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      I agree with "Anadultwithautism." Both my parents were in a nursing home that would strap them to their wheelchairs, and neither one liked it. My dad would say nasty things when he wandered, because he didn't know where he was. The nursing home threw him out, by sending him to a senior psyche evaluation, and not letting him return. (A lot of nursing facilities keep their ratings up by throwing away patients they don't like). That was the best thing that could have happened: my sister and I found a different facility where both Mom and Dad are now. They let my parents wander (and just do a search every few weeks for everybody's stuff that gets moved around). My parents recognize each other, and they love to hold hands and listen to music. That facility has "activities" all day: that is, there are some planned activities, but also a social room where everybody gathers, drinks juice, listens to music. The other facility had nowhere to go, and my parents couldn't remember going to the one short activity a day. The doctors also took them off most of their meds (including the Alzheimer's drugs), because those drugs weren't working anymore at my parents' stage of disease, and the drugs were making them agitated. My parents are BETTER now; my mother is remembering MORE. It has shocked both my sister and I. When looking at nursing home facilities, you need to think first: do they really let the patients have some mobility? Is there somewhere they can go all day, not just once a day? The ratings won't tell you if a facility fits. By the way, both my parents are much nicer than they were when I was growing up.

      April 4, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
  11. Ricky

    They really slacked the University of Miami on this story. Even if the article is meant for general consumption, you might imagine people clicking on a story like this would want more background than what we're getting here. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/03/2145418/researchers-find-new-genes-implicated.html#storylink=twt

    April 3, 2011 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Agreed. Very poorly written. Lots of crowing from one individual scientist when huge teams did the work.

      April 3, 2011 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Y'know, he's saying, WORKING ON. This is not a positive. And he's not saying EVERY person who has it, had it, got it this way. He's not saying this is the ONLY way. If you cannot grasp the difference...

      April 4, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
  12. PhilG.

    Alzheimers will likely be found to be directly tied to lifelong injestion of caffiene and the byproducts in coffee and soda's augmented by a sedentary lifestyle that includes huge amounts of fat in it.

    Short and sweet of it is over time,the blood vessel's constrict and the brain cells starve for oxygen and die.

    There is more then caffiene in your coffee that affects the health of the brain.

    There is also over time a toughening of the outer cell membrane as a protective response to the constant pummeling that outer cell membrane gets from certain food substances.

    Over time,this cause nutrients to be much less able to penetrate the cell membrane and nourish all cells.

    Not just brain cells.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bluechair

      Ok doctor. Strangely my grandma died of Alzhemier's and never drank a coffee or soda in her life.

      April 3, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse |
    • norseman

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Alzheimer's is associated with plaques in the brain that, as stated in the article, "gum up" the neurons and prevent correct firing and receipt of chemical messages. Interestingly, it was brought to light that cholesterol metabolism may also play a role in some patients. There have been several studies that suggest a CORRELATION between a sedentary lifestyle in some patients, but that's it–a correlation only, and only in some of those afflicted with the disease. So, your theory of cell death caused by soda and caffeine is absolutely incorrect. And yes, I practice medicine in CO.

      April 4, 2011 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
    • maya

      what do yo call this bs? foodentology ?
      the answers to many diseases are much much more complex that cafeine. Better study and while doing so, keep your fingers out the keyboard...

      April 4, 2011 at 08:35 | Report abuse |
    • CC

      When my mother got it almost five years ago, I couldn't see how it was humanly possible. She was an extreme health fanatic. ONLY ate organic for the last 40 years, worked out and still works out with the disease at 80 years old. Never drank soda's, forbid us as children in the 60's and 70's [and] cracked her own wheat from whole grain to make her own bread. Picked fruit, canned–never, ever ate sugar or had it in the house. It was PURE maple syrup or honey. Mostly wild salmon, organic chicken and not much beef...in my entire life I have never met anyone more aware of health, even lived in the mountains of Idaho for many years...

      PhilG, its not soda and coffee...

      April 4, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • CalgarySandy

      Caffeine has recently be shown to lower the risk of diabetes. People have been drinking pop for so long now it is really nuts to think it causes this. None of my family who had Alzheimer s drank much pop. All of them were late onset, i.e. late 70's to 90's. This is my great uncle, my grandfather, my Uncle, my Mom's cousin and her husband, and my Mom. My Mom is still alive. All of these people were cared for at home until the very end. They all drank lots of tea. So, either this is genetic or, according to this bogus thinking, tea is the problem. My dad was a very heavy drinker of booze and coffee. He did not get it. I was adopted so am not too scared. My kid sister takes care of my Mom by visiting her every day, checking up on the staff of of the home, takes her out for nice meals and to get her hair done. My sister is very afraid. She was not adopted. The death of my Uncle, my mother's brother, seemed to trigger my Mom's descent. The suicide of one grandchild and death by accident for another apparently triggered the onset and rapid development of my cousin's. She had taken care of her demented and violent husband and told my mom she did not care how she died as long as it was not Alzheimer's.
      I suspect we are seeing more of it simply because we are living so much longer. Ma Nature is not too kind to those past the age of providing new vehicles for transporting the DNA to the next generation. I am not saying, before the trolls jump up, that we should ignore it or kill everyone at 60. I hope for a cure and even just a lessening of symptoms. Is is hard to know my Mom does not know me or her only grandchild anymore. She is a woman who "prayed without ceasing" and put all her faith and hope in God. Despite giving her life to helping others she was struck down. Where is that accursed Church now?

      April 4, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  13. FO

    My mom passed away in Oct 2011 with this terrible disease. My sister and I and a wonderful caretaker cared for her at home from 2002-2011. It was very sad to see her slipping away, to see her look at you with no recognition of who you were. I am happy that we could care for her at home. We had many happy moments... sometimes she would look at you and smile, those times were priceless, and sometimes she had a brief few seconds of awareness and knew who we were until later. We found a lot of comfort in knowing she passed away at home in her own bed, with her loved ones close by.

    April 3, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. FO

    I am sorry for you grandmother, and hope you can find comfort in some of the posts on here. Yes, too much money is spent on wars we don't need to be in, and this money could be put to much better use.

    April 3, 2011 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chubby

      An answer from an expert! Thanks for cntoritbuing.

      February 1, 2012 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
    • itjnckxf

      7TUCe0 quwjonomrshi

      February 4, 2012 at 04:07 | Report abuse |
  15. MMsufferer

    Sounds like the genius ideas of Kathy Guisti and her counterparts may have been shared with yet another consortium to start IGAP. That is really wonderful. Don't know who Kathy is? Look her up. She is changing the way we research and fight against cancers, and now possibly Altzheimers. Kudos to Prof. Schellenberg and counterparts for working together to tackle Altzheimer's.

    April 3, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Going through it

    My Dad has this terrible brain robbing disease and so does my Mother-in-Law. My dad has had it for about 8 years now and my mother in law has had it for 2 years. My Dad lives with us and I must say that this disease is a cruel one. My Father was always a fun loving full of life person and now he is scared all the time, thinks we are stealing from him, is constantly being very combative to deal with. There is not a day that doesn't go by that I have to hold back tears because he is someone that I do not know! My Mother in law has also become very mean with voilent outburst becasue she is very confused. This is taking a toll on my husband and I but we go on and do the best we can. I hope that a cure is in the future so when we get older we will not have to live like my Dad and Mother in law. I feel your pain because I'm going through the same changes with both parents.

    April 3, 2011 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      You have my compassion. My mom frantically told my sister recently that 3 people had broken into her room at her nice senior's home and tried to rob her. She said she fought them all off, beat them to a pulp. She also accuses people of stealing her things because she cannot find them. This disease is way more than a loss of memory. That came first. They put her on a new med and she started having seizures and and became agitated and bitter. They took her off it and got her stabilized again, into the sweet but missing lady. It can take many tries to help any brain disorder as every brain is the result of genes and experiences. Unique.

      April 4, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
  17. SHC

    Please keep it to yourself. Not everyone needs to know.

    April 3, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. moam

    I worked in medical research for 18 years until being downsized. Regardless of the job loss, I still feel research to be a redeeming endeavor. However, what I get sick and tired of seeing in print is how researchers have discovered this new gene or that new marker for disease, or this potential drug that will help this or that, but mid-way the article or towards the end, it's the same old crap; "but much more work is needed before any practical application blah, blah, blah. Why not stop giving millions false hope until you researchers have come up with something definitive. Save all the bs until you actually have something that has practical proven use to people suffering.

    April 3, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NoNewInformation

      None of us really need CNN to tell us a lot more work needs to be done, do we??? LOL. That's hardly newsworthy.

      April 4, 2011 at 04:36 | Report abuse |
    • steve

      wow... how angry are you?

      maybe that's why you were one of the ones that were let go.

      April 4, 2011 at 07:39 | Report abuse |
    • maya

      Actually I do think media make a lot of a big deal of the "finding new genes" stuff.... "New genes" involved in genetics diseases are found every other day without really getting anywhere anytime soon. Most of the time, all the genes with know association with a disease explained a very small % of the genetic variability. I mean, it is good to discovered them, but it is just a another lead to follow. I agree we should not give so much hope out of this kind of study..

      April 4, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse |
    • NoNewInformation

      Steve, I have to say I agree with Moam. There are more people out there suffering from and dealing with the horrors of this disease who are wondering why we have so little new information today than you realize. Too often the "new information" we get does end with, "but much more work needs to be done." After all, we've known about this disease at least since 1906. When victims and there families suffer as terribly as they do with this disease, I guess patience wears thin.

      April 4, 2011 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      A lot of budget cuts have been made in every area of research. For those of us who know that brain diseases are the worst kind of torture, this is worse than a slap in the face. Everybody who can vote, please do. Look at overall voting records: do people vote to cut taxes of the rich while cutting needed research and care for everybody else? Then don't vote for them. Remember: you can get a photo ID for your loved one with dementia, and THEY can vote too (absentee). They just have to be alive; you will notice who supports health care and research.

      April 4, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  19. moam

    If the "you're an idiot" comment was directed to me, screw you. My dad died of Alzheimers. I know first hand what's involved both as a caregiver and a son watching his dad slip slowly away. So back at you moron!

    April 3, 2011 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Regina Greer

    I have never heard of AD hitting one family so hard. My Daddy, my brother had it before they died. My sister has it now and we suspect that our older sister has it also. I don't like the prospects for myself.

    April 3, 2011 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Family member

    I have seen this in two generations of my family. When/if I begin to show signs of this terrible disease, I have plans to take my life before it progresses to the extreme I witnessed with my mother and grandmother. Unfortunately, this could mean taking my life when I am relatively healthy, but I know I don't want to put my family through caring for me if I get this disease, wasting thousands of dollars when out of my mind and slowly wasting away. I would rather have any disease than this one.

    April 3, 2011 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vicki

      I have the same plan. My mom died from AD and after taking care of her I decided I would not put my husband and kids through that. It is a terrible disease.

      April 4, 2011 at 00:24 | Report abuse |
    • Been There Too

      I know how you feel. I watched my beautiful mother's personality change, and watched her lose all dignity at a nursing home. She finally died at a relatively young 73. I'd rather die of anything else!! I don't believe in suicide for religious reasons, but I did ask God please, no Alzheimer's. The breast cancer I've now got will mean I will also die young, likely much younger than my mother, but it's far, far preferable.

      April 4, 2011 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
    • CalgarySandy

      It is my hope that the laws will change so people who have incurable diseases do not endanger their families who help them move on before there is no one left to move on. The Baby Boomers will be getting this by the millions and it will not likely be possible to have all of them adequately taken care of.

      April 4, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
  22. justme

    I feel sorry for everyone's loss.

    April 3, 2011 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. battergrl

    "MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE- Avoid correcting mistakes: year, person, place.
    AD person will not become as confused.

    April 4, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Dan

    I had a grandfather who passed away from this terrible disease. It's good to find genetic correlations, but hopefully, there is work towards a cure or effective treatment. I don't know if I would want a test done with limited treatment options and insurers would probably jump rates several hundred percent if they found someone was likely to develop the disease.

    April 4, 2011 at 01:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 12-21-12

    It's almost better if the world ends on the Mayan date! No more suffering, disease, heartache, disasters, pain, etc.

    April 4, 2011 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. NoNewInformation

    Infinitely better!

    April 4, 2011 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. battergrl

    Sarah-RN: Your comment was heartfelt and beatiful.More people need to read and act on these AD issues. Thank You....

    April 4, 2011 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NoNewInformation

      Wish I could hire SarahRN to help me with my Mom. I'd do it in a heartbeat. Totally agree with you battergrl.

      April 4, 2011 at 05:08 | Report abuse |
    • Onofrio

      I have heard many dnrfefeit reports about the InHealth London NHS Diagnostics Service but all of them describe a service that I would not want to take my Father or Mother to.I have heard of patients being confused about who they can go to for aftercare. There is either none or very little verification carried out (real ear measurements), no counselling. Poor facilities in the mobile units & lack of equipment in clinic to assess patients effectively.

      January 31, 2012 at 23:47 | Report abuse |
  28. bbbrooke

    I lost my father 1 year ago today to AD. I have since become active with the local Alzheimer's Assoc. chapter... I have also taken courses and am planning on pursuing some sort of advocacy direction for those families with loved ones being destroyed by AD. It is heartbreaking to know there is nothing we can do NOW to ease the hurt of those with AD other than to support them and love them, but with continued research and support MAYBE we can hope that our children and future generations will not suffer with this horrific disease

    April 4, 2011 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Gracie

    My mother had Alzheimers. I know all about it. I'm being tested for dementia soon. I would prefer being put down like a dog. But my faith would not let me do it.

    April 4, 2011 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      At my Uncle's funeral the minister said something like this: The God who created the universe and brought my Uncle into the world would surely hold His spirit in His hands until it was time for the body to die. It gave some comfort to my very religious Mom .

      April 4, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  30. Haakonas

    I have Cadasil which is just another form of Alzheimer's and I went thru an over 1 year period where I could remember nothing at all not even who my daughter was. My family thought I was a goner until a family doctor told me about marijuana and I have been using it since. I cannot cure Cadasil as there is damage to my notch 3 gene but marijuana used daily in 12 hour intervals has completely changed my outlook and has given me the strength to continue to battle this horrid disease. I have those nasty looking plaques but since i started using I truly believe now in the Power of Medicinal Marijuana as I remember just as much as I used to when I was a young man. My body is not complaining either as I have gone back to the gym after of course dealing with a stroke which is part of this disease which has made me look at life in a whole entirely new light.

    April 4, 2011 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      Good information and I am sorry for your illness. I use weed for mental health problems that none of the dozens of psychiatric drugs or moronic therapists have helped with over a 40 year period. It helps with the phantom pains of Depression as well as calms down anxiety.

      April 4, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
  31. Coach Lew

    My wife has Alzheimer's and I am her caregiver. I get a little help from my daughter, thank God, otherwise my life would also be in ruins. I started giving my wife mega doses of vitamin E,C, B, B complex, Niacinmide, D-3, Lysine, Flaxseed, and Omega 3-6-9. That along with her Namenda and Aricept worked for about six years where the worst she would do was to repeat herself and lose track of her glasses and purse but, now she is going into the next stage where she keeps seeing people and things that aren't there, keeps asking about her nine brothers and sisters of which five have passed away. It is getting harder for me to cope because now she at times thinks I am her father and can't remember being married to me of which we've been married 53 years. I pray every day for a breakthrough to cure this disease but deep down I know it won't happen in our lifetime. This week I am finally going to take her to the Alzheimers meetings and I also will be attending one real soon. I've put this off too long and am now admitting that I need help as a caregiver. Alzheimer's makes you question a lot about life in general and sometimes I get mad at God, my family, myself, and lose sight of why we are here on this planet Earth. May God Bless all of you.

    April 4, 2011 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CC

      I felt the same way as I am the caregiver for my mother, she was such a spiritual woman–now doesn't remember what she use to believe in, I questioned God for a while, why would he allow a woman so devoted to him no longer have the connection to him...I thought he was no longer there for her. I realized that he was using me to be there for her, and that he had not forsaken her, even though she has gotten this horrible disease. Life is a journey, and while her journey is realistically over, mine is not-and when I quesitoned him, my faith, everything about why we are here it was a burden I could not longer carry. When I cried out to him, he lifted the burden and Mom is happier, I am happier...it is still a mean disease. And there are days I am angry that this happened to my mother, BUT, I take the minutes of laughter we share, the seconds of tender glances, and I do have the heartbreaks still but am so happy that I can be there for her, love her, take care of her...its my blessing...and somethings we will never know why. But you must get some respite care, if you feel like your daughter cannot give you the time off you need check into the Senior Services in your town and find out if there is any help available to you. You're not alone!

      April 4, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
  32. Rachel

    It's great to see new discoveries are being made for this disease. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year, and we encourage her to stay active, she paints, and works with a music therapy for memory program, and it really seems to be helping her. Hopefully through these new genetic discoveries they will be closer to finding a cure.

    April 4, 2011 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      There are some very good brain training games for computers. I am using one, though I am only 62, to help build and strengthen connections in the brain. My mom would never use them as she is afraid of computers and would get agitated by frustration. I have read it is the learning of new things that help and not just getting better at what you are already good at. That makes sense as that is how you create new brain cells.

      April 4, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
  33. Marilyn

    My dad has been diagnosed with AD. He has gone down rapidly in the last few months. My grandmother also died with it. She had seven children and all seven either currently have AD or died with AD. My dad was the last of the siblings to be diagnosed with this disease. This is a terrible disease and if my family could contribute to the research we would be glad to help. Having so many in one family with the disease might give some clues in the gene research.

    April 4, 2011 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Dawn

    Hey guys, will you visit HelpFaye.ORG a friend of mine is fighting for her life.... Thanks.

    April 4, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. CLT

    My mom is about to turn 83 and was recently diagnosed with AD. She is a completely healthy and active person, other than AD, but we noticed her memory was going. Then I noticed her personality changing and then the anger. Unfortunately, I am not close by to help, but eventually I am going to have to step up and do something, because I do not want he sole care to be from strangers. Reading all these postings is very helpful, especally SarahRN. Thanks.

    April 4, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Franka Tirado

    Strangely, growing up in the caribbean, few people suffered from alzheimers. Yet I see such large numbers here is the US amongst all races. Leads me to wonder what environmental drivers impact this disease that we haven't yet discovered.

    April 4, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Syama

    Baba Ramdeo of India teaches some breathing exercises that gives more oxizen to brain which help to heal dementia/Alzimer. His breathing exercises have created a health revolution in entire India. People from all walks of life are taking health advantage by practicing "Kapalbhati and Anulomvilom"'

    April 4, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      You communicated Syama well enough to be understood. What you had to say was well worth while. Meditating and mindfulness practice are used for many health issues. Most therapies for mental illness recommend it. They have stripped off the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy so it does not make Christians uncomfortable. I am pleased to see that it has made its way into the AD arena. Another helpful practice is the "half smile." Smiling affects brain chemicals. It is just a tiny smile like you would see on the Buddha. I suspect that guided meditation would be most helpful with people with AD as it helps in keeping focus. You can get CD's and there are even some short free ones on line.

      April 4, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  38. Syama

    sorry for the typing mistakes.

    April 4, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jayne

    When will the doctors start looking at preventable and treatable cause of dementias. Environmental toxins, brain injuries, and simple things like a long-time lack of niacin and excess sugar/insulin causes dementias. Many of these causes are inexpensively remedied but all these researchers are looking at is another unaffordable pill that treats symptoms and will probably cause more harm than good. It's a shameful approach to health care!

    April 4, 2011 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. nmace

    I rarely comment but the comments show what a hard job it is to take care of good decent old and not-old folks.

    April 4, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Harbinger of Half-Decency

    What about treatment updates? I'm surprised there was no mention of the Australian company Prana Biotechnology who had great results with their clinical trials. Search "Prana's PBT2 - Directly Restores Neurons Critical to Cognition" for an interesting read. I guess CNN is doesn't like to go outside the US for research?

    April 4, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. mark

    Just throwing it out there, but i saw a special on mad-cow disease and how it could have an incubation period of 50-100 years. It also destroys the brain. Could it be something like this that causes Alzheimers? The foods they ate years ago?

    April 4, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. M.

    Just so people are aware: a large part of GOP (the Tea Party wing) is pushing for major cuts in the health research budget. This would cripple our research and development for many years, everywhere, not just in the Alzheimer's field. Write your representatives!

    April 4, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. mel

    Alzheimer's is so awful. My grandmom has had it for years. She doesn't recognize anybody. She often thinks my dad (her son) is her husband who passed away 20 years ago. I think she recognizes the resemblence of my father and her husband. It's heartbreaking to have to introduce ourselves every time we see her.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. arlington

    There will be a lot of folks out there with this horrible disease with baby boomers aging. We need to focus on research before this becomes a health crisis of epic size. I have watched my father lose to this disease every day for the past 14 years. On good days we still get a glimpse of him and that has become enough for me. If one less person or one less family has to suffer from this horrible disease it would be a blessing. It is expensive financially and emotionally. Lack of understanding and compassion from people who are ignorant about this disease such as Jayne are sometimes the biggest obstacles. This isn't someone's fault. It is real and painful and needs to be handled with love and caring, not blame.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Rachel

    My father passed away this past October 2010 with Alzheimers after being diagnosed for 5 years. He was 73. My father was always slender, very very active, did actiivities to stimulate his mind and never smoked, did drugs nor alcohol. He was a very kind and Christian man. He was placed in a nursing home and I feel this is when he went downhill. He gave up. His children had no say so to be able to take him out and care for him since he was remarried. He was able to eat and walk by himself. After 4 days of seeing him eating his lunch, he "aspirated" in his sleep? and slipped into unconsciousness......not believing this.....PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR LOVED ONES....THE NURSING HOMES WILL ALLOW THEM TO DIE!!

    April 4, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Dooz O

    I've watched this kind of studies advance for 20 plus years... Let me just say this, advance is NOT even the right word.. All these tests are not for the good of the person who is inflicted.. All this genetic junk is so they can flag you at birth, don't be fooled.. The closest thing they came to in the form of an advance was the antihistamine out of Russia.. They hid that one so quick it wasn't even funny... This has become nothing but a cash machine for the industry... Isn't capitalism great ?

    April 4, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Inupaaq

    "WHAT" About the LATEST Research – Brain "WASTE (tau plaque) Removal DEFCIENCIES ! ?
    The LATEST Research Paper on Alzheimer's that I recently read INDICATES that Disiease MIGHT be Caused by the Patient's Brain's Metabolic System's INABILITY to REMOVE the 'tau plaque' from the Brain Tissue.

    April 4, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. timd

    My stepmom is showing signs of dimensia. She obsessively searches for fleas in the throw rugs and has had the house fumigated 11 times in one year because she claims she sees fleas and eggs everywhere. She also likes getting up at 3am and moving furniture – like beds and sofas. Then she keeps my dad up all night while she's jacking her jaw – I heard her doing this recently and in the morning I remarked that she was up early as I heard them talking at 4am but she insisted that she was sleeping. She also gets disoriented very easily and recently walked into the kitchen of the restuarant while looking for our table. But the latest thing is that she strained her back pretty badly and was layed up for a month and she started seeing a physical therapist and it started getting better but as soon as it wasn't hurting – she was off moving furniture again and re-injured it and now this has become a pattern. She reinjures it within 2 days of it becoming well enough for her to walk. Meanwhile, my dad is being driven insane because she argues with him constantly about utterly hilarious issues – she claims that when he makes toast that he's dropping breadcrumbs that feed the fleas!!!!! Her doctor must have picked up on it because she asked him if wanted some tranquilizers.

    April 4, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Howard Wade

    Keep up the good work in research on this horrible problem! My wife died in September of Alzheimer's and wasted away to nothing...a drop to less than 70 lbs from 145lbs at 5'7". She was a very well educated high school English instructor and later a full time librarian. The disease seemed to pose a problem for her about 6 years ago when she told me she would no longer write checks and totally gave up knitting. She was excellent in knitting and designed many of her own patterns. I certainly miss her after a 54 year marriage! Support for the research to cure Alzheimer's is very important!

    April 6, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.