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Alzheimer's Prevention Research

Prevention is the driving force in the Alzheimer’s field right now, and two studies are involved with finding a treatment to target the early brain changes while memory and thinking functions are still unimpaired.

The National Institute on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as some other foundations, are funding the prevention studies. The aim is to stop the earliest stages of plague formation in those who show no symptoms of dementia but are at a higher risk for being diagnosed with it due to their age and a gene.

If people want to participate, they first have to join GeneMatch, a national program led by the Banner Alzheimer's Institute that recruits participants for Alzheimer’s prevention studies and uses genetic testing (through free cheek swab kits) to match volunteers with research opportunities. Since the registry began three years ago, more than 70,000 people have signed up.

To qualify to participate in one of the prevention studies, those that join GeneMatch have to agree to learn their APOE4 status and have at least one copy of the gene.

The first study is accepting those who have two copies of the gene, and they are given either shots every couple of months or daily pills, or placebo versions of the treatments. The other study is enrolling those who either have two copies of APOE4, or one copy plus signs that plague is starting to build through brain scans. Those participants will receive drugs to prevent the formation of plague, or placebo medication.

Written by Setareh Vatan