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Untangling the Mysteries of the Brain
By Sentinel News Service
Published March 19, 2009

Scientists Tackle the Latest Frontier in Alzheimer's Disease Research

By the year 2050, over 86 million people–or 21 percent of the total U.S. population–will be age 65 or older. Over that same period, the number of people living with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is expected to increase almost three-fold, from 4.5 million to 13.2 million. Among African Americans, higher rates of vascular disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol may be contributing to a greater risk for developing this fatal brain disease.

Much evidence suggests that AD is caused by amyloid plaque deposits and tangles in the brain, which lead to cognitive decline, memory loss and behavioral changes. Amyloid, one of the main components of plaques in AD, is known to bind to Receptors for Advanced Glycated Endproducts (or RAGE, for short) on the surface of brain cells.  The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study at UCSD is coordinating the "RI Study" to test an experimental drug that targets these amyloid deposits.

"The RAGE Inhibitor [RI] Study represents the latest frontier in AD research," said Dr. Paul Aisen, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). "With this study, researchers across the U.S. are now focused on attacking the root of the disease progression versus just improving the disease's symptoms."

The RI study is taking place in more than 40 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, and seeks 399 volunteers with mild to moderate AD aged 50 or older to test this novel approach to treating AD.  For more information or to volunteer, contact the USC Memory and Aging Center at (323) 442-5775 or UCLA Research Study, UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center, at (310) 794-6039.

You can also contact the National Institute of Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-4384380 or


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