UCLA researchers have identified chemical changes in the brains of people destined to develop Familial Alzheimer's, a finding which may prove to be a vital first step in developing medications for the inherited condition.
The findings only apply to Familial Alzheimer's, a rare genetic form of the dementia. This inherited variety usually develops before a person hits 65 and leaves his or her offspring with a 50 percent chance of contracting it.
UCLA researchers say they can detect chemical changes in those patients’ brains up to 15 years before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear. This window of time offers scientists vital clues to the evolution of Alzheimer’s.
They hope it will help them develop treatments for Familial Alzheimer’s and for the more common sporadic, late-onset Alzheimer’s.
"We’re anticipating studying these families is going to allow us to develop interventions," said John Ringman, the UCLA neurologist who led the research. "We’re actually in the process of developing clinical trials to prevent the disease in people who have inherited mutations like this."
Ringman says he hopes to launch clinical trials early next year. So far, no treatments are available to slow or stop any variety of Alzheimer’s disease.
Correction: The original story stated that Familial Alzheimer's develops after a person turns 65, which was incorrect; Familial Alzheimer's develops before a person turns 65.