logo_bg We Can Cure Alzheimer's Now

Outliving memory: Detecting Alzheimer's before it hits may be key to cure

By Barbara Peters Smith Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL

Published: Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.

Last Modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.

Drug companies’ desperate efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease have resulted in repeated failures at the human trial stage. Now researchers say at least they know why: Changes in the brain begin years before a person shows any sign of memory impairment.

And by the time that person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, those changes may well be irreversible.

In response, neuroscientists are working to understand how and why early signs of the disease — known as biomarkers — develop into full-blown dementia. Researchers also are beginning to call for a new approach to the terminal disorder — as something to accept, not fear.

“We need to start thinking about getting society ready to think about Alzheimer’s as a disease that begins at an early age,” says Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t think we’re going to cure it; we have to learn to live with it.”

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