MU neurologist says new Alzheimer's study is "a great breakthrough"

7 months 1 week 23 hours ago Tuesday, April 10 2018 Apr 10, 2018 Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:15:00 PM CDT April 10, 2018 in News
By: Pat Mueller, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - An MU neurologist is heralding new research that has identified a gene that makes people more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and then managed to prevent it from damaging brain cells.

The team in California said the study could open the door to potential new drugs that could halt Alzheimer's. 

The gene is called apoE4, and people who have it are between 30 and 35 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's in their lives, said MU neurology associate professor Joel Shenker.

"We've known for a long time that there's this gene called apoE," Shenker said. "What's not been clearly understood is why does this gene make Alzheimer's more likely, and what this recent study did was it found out which protein the gene seems to code for, and it found a way to stop that protein from being active." 

Shenker has studied Alzheimer's since the 1980s. He said research picked up recently; half of all the papers ever published on the disease came out in the past 10 years. 

"We're really just getting started, we're just figuring out what's happening in Alzheimer's," he said. "So this development is a great breakthrough - it's a piece of that very big puzzle. We've got a long way to go." 

The Alzheimer's Association said 110,000 Missourians aged 65 or older have the disease. The group projects that the number will grow to 130,000 by 2025. 

Shenker said, if the new research pans out and is useful, doctors will be able to look at the link between Alzheimer's and the apoE gene similarly to how they look at heart disease and cholesterol.

"If cholesterol is elevated, that doesn't prove that you'll have a heart attack, but now we guide the patient and tell them what to do with their diet, exercise or to take a certain medicine," Shenker said.

He said the same sort of precautions can be taken based on a person's genetic apoE status.

"Maybe a medicine can be developed so that gene can be rendered impotent. That I can see happening, and that could be happening perhaps in a few years," he said. 

Shenker's main area of study involving Alzheimer's is the clinical care of patient: helping families understand what's happening with the disease and the problems they will encounter. 

He said not enough resources are being allocated to helping people who already have dementia.

"Typically, we tend to ignore the incredible need people with dementia have," Shenker said. "There aren't enough nursing homes, not enough professional caregivers. We as a culture need to help each other out better when we have dementia." 

The Alzheimer's Association said there were 316,000 caregivers in Missouri last year. In 2017, there was 360,000,000 hours of unpaid care for Alzheimer's patients, much of it shouldered by spouses, children and other relatives.

 

More News

Grid
List
LAKE OZARK - Community members gathered Saturday to raise money for the Police Unity Tour. Every year, police officers... More >>
3 minutes ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 7:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man is home from the hospital Saturday after spending three weeks in the ICU, recovering from... More >>
17 minutes ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 6:58:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
PHELPS COUNTY - One man was airlifted to the hospital Saturday morning after he suffered "a large caliber gunshot wound... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 4:46:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Fall Into Art kicked off the weekend with its annual show, and artists shared what their art means... More >>
3 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 3:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One of the largest holiday shopping events in mid-Missouri takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Columbia Exposition... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:20:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - From the amateurs to the professional travel teams, dodgeball players of all skill sets took part in the... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:05:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A chase that reached speeds of 115 mph and a subsequent foot pursuit led to the arrest... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 12:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
Royal Palm Beach, FL ( WPTV ) -- Firefighters rescued several pets from a house fire in Royal Palm Beach... More >>
7 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:45:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - Another fatal crash occurred in Missouri early Saturday morning. 30 year-old Richard Lowry, of Eugene, was pronounced... More >>
13 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 5:57:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
SEDALIA - A Sedalia woman was pronounced dead following a crash near Sedalia on Nov. 16. 51-year-old Janna McQueen... More >>
13 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 5:24:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A jury has found a Wisconsin man guilty of first-degree murder for killing a Missouri mother who... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 9:47:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Families filled empty shoeboxes with hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, shoes and toys for children in need at... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 8:04:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The price of a typical Thanksgiving meal in Missouri is a full $5.25 higher than the national average.... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 7:18:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The nature of Twitter and how government officials use it was at the heart of a hearing... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 4:11:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS - The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced cuts to costs Friday to help with enrollment at... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 3:24:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- USA Gymnastics' longtime chief operating officer has resigned, the organization said Friday, becoming the latest in a string... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 2:56:27 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- A tree in downtown Columbia became the target of vandalism Thursday night when two men were caught on camera... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 2:49:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Several groups in the City of Columbia are working to regulate and tax short-term rentals, such as Airbnb's.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 1:18:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 38°
8pm 35°
9pm 35°
10pm 34°
11pm 33°