Las Vegas researchers pushing groundbreaking Alzheimer's research forward

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - There are currently 43,000 people and their families in Nevada struggling with the debilitating disease.

By 2025 that number is expected to rise to 64,000.

That's part of the reasons the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is part of a ground-breaking clinical trial.It is called the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and it is part of a nationwide effort to track the progression of the degenerative brain disease.

"We know Alzheimer's disease leaves a marker on the brain and tracking that over time is really important for us to developing new therapies," Dr. Aaron Ritter, a neuropsychiatrist at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, said.

Ritter described the ongoing ADNI research as the "biggest study" in terms of understand ing how Alzheimer's disease progresses. That's why people like 82-year-old Dick Geyer are signing up.

"I'd love to see what's in there," Geyer said.

The 82-year-old doesn't have any major memory issues himself but has watched friends wither away.

"She can't carry on a conversation.  She can answer a question, but she can't.  She is in perfect physical health," Geyer said of a longtime friend.

Doctors at the Lou Ruvo Center say the current treatments only help the symptoms. They don't slow the disease. That's why they are focusing on tracking brain activity from the age of 55.

"We know the markers of the disease are present before the symptoms," Ritter said.

They are currently looking for people in all stages of memory loss to help them understand how those markers develop in hopes of slow the progression of the disease.

"We think by targeting those markers and the pathology we can be much more effective in the treatments we have," Ritter said.

Researchers say after years of slow development, the previous versions of the ADNI study, which began more than a decade ago, have already shown signs of progress.

That's why they are expanding the research in hopes of slowing the degenerative disease that is currently projected to impact 15 million worldwide people by 2050.

"We think this is the time when we can make a difference," Ritter said.

While Geyer knows the study likely will not help his generation, he has his sights set on the future.

"I feel it is very important at my age particularly to be able to make this contribution," Geyer said.

If you are interested in taking part in the study you can take the take the screening survey here.

Doctors say the study typically requires those involved to visit the center once every year or two so they can go through the brain scans and other tests used to measure any potential degeneration.

If you are interested in participating in the study, you can visit the ADNI website here to complete the survey.

You can reach them by phone at 1-888-2-ADNI-95 (1-888-223-6495)

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