Promising new research into Alzheimer's disease

Science is slowly making progress toward finding the cause of dementia.

We know that the buildup of plaque in the brain can cause the memory loss in diseases like Alzheimer's.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have how found that there may be a window of time, possible years to treat that plaque before it impairs memory.

"Our study focused on a brain imaging technique that can image plaques in living people," said Dr. Clifford Jack.

Dr. Jack and his colleagues determined that these plaques or clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid begin accumulating while people are still cognitively normal and it takes on average about 15 years to reach levels typically seen in people with full dementia.

"What it implies is that there is about a 15 year period of time when treatments could be effective at either reversing or slowing down or stopping the rate of accumulation of this protein," Jack said.

There's still much more work to do, but Dr. Jack expects the results of this study will guide future research into medicines that help treat dementia.

If you need to talk to someone, the Alzheimer's Association's Helpline is available around the clock at 800.272.3900

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