In a NY Times piece, Testing a Drug that may stop Alzheimer’s Before it Starts, it was announced that a drug, Crenezumab, is set to be tested early next year on families who carry the single genetic mutation for Alzheimer’s – people who are genetically guaranteed to suffer from the disease years from now but who do not yet have any symptoms. Most of the 300 participants for this study will come from one extended family of 5,000 members in Medellin, Columbia who have been horrifically affected by this disease throughout their extended family.
This Colombian family’s story is presented in an astonishing video within the article’s link above. For decades, these family members started showing Alzheimer’s symptoms in their mid-40′s and the progression was so rapid that they advanced to full-blown dementia by the age of 51. The effects on a society, and a family’s dynamics, is eye opening to say the least. Let’s face it, in this video when a Colombian pre-teen is shown feeding his father, the role reversal is unmistakable.
The Study’s 300 family member participants will be years away from developing symptoms – with some being treated as young as 30 years old – but the hope is that if this drug forestalls memory or cognitive problems, plaque formation, and other brain deterioration, scientists will have discovered that delay or prevention is possible.
This drug trial has a long road ahead of it, but the study will be one of only a very few ever conducted to test prevention treatments for any genetically predestined disease. In an Alzheimer’s world where very little good news is forthcoming, it’s nice to see even a slight glimmer of hope.