Blacks in U.S. twice as likely as Whites to develop disease
FROM FAMILY FEATURES
More than five million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and scientists expect this number to triple by 2050. Experts say that African-Americans are two to three times more likely than White Americans to develop the disease.
A groundbreaking study testing whether an investigational drug can prevent or slow the development of Alzheimer’s seeks volunteers – including African-Americans – who have just the earliest changes in their brain associated with the disease but don’t yet have any symptoms.
The A4 Study (which stands for the Anti-Amyloid in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study), funded by the National Institute on Aging, Eli Lilly, and several philanthropic organizations, seeks to delay Alzheimer’s-related brain damage and curb memory loss before any outward signs develop.
Why it’s important
Healthy people with normal memories can join a clinical trial aiming to prevent memory loss associated with the disease.
“It is extremely important that African-Americans get involved with this study,” said Dr. Reisa Sperling, principal investigator of the A4 Study. “We need to know why African-Americans develop Alzheimer’s in such high numbers, and the A4 Study offers new hope that we can give people a way to fight back, give them something they can actively do to protect their own memories.”
This landmark study takes a new approach to Alzheimer’s research by testing for an elevated level of a protein known as “amyloid” in the brain. Scientists believe that elevated amyloid in the brain may play an important role in the eventual development of memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
65 and up wanted
Researchers say that the goal of the A4 Study is to test whether an investigational drug that targets amyloid plaques can help to slow the progression of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s. Another major emphasis of the study is to help determine why certain populations, including African-Americans, are more likely to develop this disease.
The A4 Study requires 1,000 healthy participants between the ages of 65 and 85 who have normal thinking and memory function to enroll in sites across the United States. Researchers estimate that 10,000 people will need to be screened to find 1,000 individuals who qualify.
Potential study volunteers can learn more about the study including how to enroll by visiting the A4 website at A4Study.org, contacting 844-A-4-Study (844-247-8839) or by emailing BrainLink@ucsd.edu.
ALZHEIMER’S SIGNS vs. TYPICAL AGE-
Experts point to several differences between warning signs for Alzheimer’s and the typical changes that occur as people age.
•Poor judgment and decision making vs. making a bad decision once in awhile
•Inability to manage a budget vs. missing a monthly payment
•Losing track of the date or season vs. forgetting which day it is and remembering later
•Difficulty having a conversation vs. sometimes forgetting which word to use
•Misplacing things, unable to retrace steps to find them vs. losing things from time to time.
Although no cure exists for Alzheimer’s, experts say an early diagnosis is key in getting people the medical help and support needed to maintain their quality of life as long as possible.
SOURCE: CONTRA COSTA TIMES/TNS