Local quest to find Alzheimer's cure

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If someone you loved was given a fatal diagnosis, how hard would you fight for a cure?  That's what has families of local Alzheimer's patients turning to clinical trials, in the hopes of *finding hope in a desperate race against time.

For 50 years, Marianne White and her sister, Meg, were as close as two sisters could be.  "Our birthdays are exactly two years and one day apart," says Marianne, "so we've celebrated our birthdays every year."

When Meg began showing signs of memory loss four years ago, at only 50 years of age, her family couldn't believe the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.  "It's a horrible disease in that it robs you of who you are," says Marianne, "and the person is with it enough to know that something's going on and they are losing their memory."

Dr. Kashinath Yadalam, CEO of Lake Charles Clinical Trials, is working to find a cure for Alzheimer's, with the help of patients in Southwest Louisiana.  "There is nothing on the market right now that can reverse or cure it," he says, "the hope is that the combination of these new treatments can put a dent not only in the progression, but possibly reverse the disease process."

In the brain of an Alzheimer's patient, plaque builds up in the brain's nerves leading to memory loss and eventually fatal brain damage. A 13-month study through Dr. Yadalam's office is testing a vaccine therapy, targeting this specific protein causing the plaque accumulation.  "The focus of this particular treatment is to remove the protein," says Dr. Yadalam, "thereby decreasing the pressure of these clumps on the neurons or the nerve cells of the brain."

A shorter trial is testing a new medication created to improve the neurotransmitter function of the brain.  "These medications increase the ability of the brain cells to communicate with one another," says Dr. Yadalam.

While Meg's disease has rapidly advanced to the level that she's not a candidate for these trials, Marianne is encouraging other caregivers to get their loved ones involved in the search for a cure.  "It wasn't that we thought the studies would help Meg," says Marianne, "we know that the studies need to be done so that it helps future generations."

*There are currently four drugs on the market to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, but nothing to stop it or reverse it. If you want to find out more about these clinical trials, which are recruiting participants, call Dr. Yadalam at (337) 494-3266.

*There's also a free support group for families of Alzheimer's patients.  It's every Tuesday from 5:30-6:30 P.M. in the Shearman Conference Center at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

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