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How One Family May Raise Hope For All Alzheimer’s Patients

Every 67 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  However, some researchers believe finding the ultimate cure for Alzheimer’s disease might rest with a family in Columbia.  CBS News recently sent reporters to this small South American country to find out more about this family’s story.

The couple’s names are Marta and Jose (both not their real names).  Jose is the caregiver for his wife Marta who is living with Alzheimer’s disease.  Most people living with Alzheimer’s disease are elderly; Marta isn’t even 50 years old.  She has a condition called Early-Onset-Alzheimer’s, which is hereditary.  In fact, members of her extended family in Medellin are carriers of a rare genetic mutation, which guarantees they’ll get Alzheimer’s disease at a very early age.

Dr. Francisco Lopera, director of the neuroscience group at the University of Antoiquia Medellin, has been studying Marta’s family since the early 1980s.  Of its nearly 5,000 members, about a third carry this mutation.  Dr. Lopera has collected the DNA of more than 3,300 of these family members.  Three hundred of them are taking part in the world’s first trials, which are aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s.

The medical community is anxious to find out the results of a new drug trial taking place that has never been tested in healthy people who have a genetic predisposition to getting Alzheimer’s disease early in life.  “We are very optimistic about this,” said Dr. Lopera. “The medication has never been tried on healthy people.”

To learn more about this study, and this family, please click here.

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