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Article Archive >> Senior Life

Volunteers: a key to curing Alzheimer's disease

Volunteers: a key to curing Alzheimer's disease

(NAPS)-Although more than 5 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. are currently living with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and while that number is expected to jump to 13.5 million by 2050, there is reason to hope. That's good news for the almost 15 million more Americans-family members, friends, neighbors and volunteers-currently caring for their loved ones with AD without any real options to help them get better.
Alzheimer's is the only disease in the top 10 causes of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow the progression of the disease. In fact, between 2000 and 2008, deaths from AD increased by 66 percent, while deaths from HIV, stroke, heart disease and prostate cancer all declined significantly.
Scientists have learned a great deal about potential underlying causes of AD, and advancements in treatments have been accomplished in recent years. To spur more breakthroughs and speed discoveries, scientists are focusing on early detection through neuroimaging of the brain.
"We have to understand Alzheimer's from its earliest signs in order to treat it effectively," said Michael Weiner, M.D., principal investigator of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). "If we can get a fuller picture of the brain and identify signs of the disease before someone gets ill, we can develop better treatment options, which could slow the progression and one day even prevent or cure Alzheimer's."
ADNI, the largest Alzheimer's study of its kind, is now in its second phase (ADNI 2). Scientists are looking for volunteers ages 55-90 to participate in the study to allow them to continue their research at the pace needed to be successful against the disease. They are seeking healthy individuals, those with some memory concerns and people with diagnosed AD.
Participants will not only be contributing to the search for treatments and a cure for AD, they will also have the benefit of access to leading medical experts in the field. In many communities, it is difficult to find someone who knows specifically about Alzheimer's disease, so clinical trials can be a great way to work with specialists.
"We cannot cure what we do not understand," said Dr. Weiner. "But with the help of volunteers across the nation, we're on the right path and making great strides to end the Alzheimer's epidemic."
To volunteer or learn more about the study, contact the National Institute on Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at (800) 438-4380 or visit www.adni-info.org.

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