U of M Leads Alzheimer’s Research

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The University of Michigan will be helping the federal government with a $60 million study on Alzheimer's.

About 800 older Americans will be asked to lend their brains to science this spring.

Researchers will use brain scans to track people who have either an early stage of the disease or a milder type of memory loss.

U of M will serve as a national coordinating center for the project's brain scanning research. The school also will recruit people from Michigan and northern Ohio to participate in the five-year study.

The goal is to find early warning signs that can identify people at highest risk of developing Alzheimer's.

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Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related and irreversible brain disorder that occurs gradually and results in memory loss, behavior and personality changes, and a decline in thinking abilities.

  • These losses are related to the breakdown of the connections between nerve cells in the brain and the eventual death of many of these cells.

  • On average, patients with AD live for 8 to 10 years after they are diagnosed with the disease.

  • AD advances progressively, from mild forgetfulness to a severe loss of mental function.

  • Although the risk of developing AD increases with age, AD and dementia symptoms are not a part of normal aging.

Impact of AD

  • AD is the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.

  • Scientists estimate that up to four million people currently suffer with the disease, and the prevalence (the number of people with the disease at any one time) doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.

  • A recent study estimated that the annual cost of caring for one AD patient is $18,408 for a patient with mild AD, $30,096 for a patient with moderate AD, and $36,132 for a patient with severe AD.

  • The annual national direct and indirect costs of caring for AD patients are estimated to be as much as $100 billion.

Types of AD

  • Two types of Alzheimer’s disease exist: familial AD (FAD), which follows a certain inheritance pattern, and sporadic AD, where no obvious inheritance pattern is seen.

  • AD is further described as early-onset (occurring in people younger than 65) or late-onset (occurring in those 65 and older).

  • Early-onset AD is rare (about 5 to 10 percent of cases) and generally affects people aged 30 to 60. Some forms of early-onset AD are inherited and run in families.

Source: Web Reports


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