For the first time researchers can now scan and detect a protein in the brain plaque that's linked to Alzheimer's.
The new technology has doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital looking for people to participate in a groundbreaking study.
Joe Gittemeier, 71, is an active man who has no signs of memory loss, but doctors did find amyloid in him, a protein in the brain often found in Alzheimer's patients.
"My father had it, my sister had it, my brother had it, my father's mother had it, my favorite aunt had it," Gittemeier said.
With the extensive family history, Gittemeier is at high risk of getting the disease, making him an ideal candidate for a new trial-testing exercise and its effect on amyloid levels.
"We think it gives us the ability to identify people at risk, 10, 15 years before they might develop memory loss. And so that's a time window that we want to capitalize on so that we can identify these people and do something about it. Something effective," said Dr. Jeffrey Burns with the University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center.
Burns looks at the effects of exercise on the brains, but he's never been able to look closely at amyloid levels in living humans until now.
"Does getting rid of it (amyloid) help these people? It's another question we don't really know the answer to," he said. "Amyloid is something we see in people with Alzheimer's disease. It's a protein that builds up in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease."
The trial needs 100 participants with amyloid to walk on a treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes, four times a week for a year.
"If there's a YMCA nearby someone and they are wanting to get off the couch and exercise and willing to go through some of these tests that will assess them for their level of risk, they are ideal for this study," Burns said.
The trial might note crack the cure for Alzheimer's, but it's expected to get doctors one step closer.
"I hope to delay the Alzheimer's that I may be getting, if I am indeed getting it. And I think that's a big concern, but also to further the knowledge, the education people need to come up with a cure for it," Gittemeier said.
If you are 65 or older, in good health and have no memory loss, contact the University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center at 913-588-0555. Doctors will scan you for amyloid before determining whether you are a good candidate for the non-invasive trial.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:14:19 GMT
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