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

1 year 3 months 1 week 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
COLUMBIA — A Rolla man was sentenced to life in prison Friday for a 2017 shooting that killed two people.... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 7:45:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - Police found explosives and an unknown substance in the back of a stolen van on Friday. ... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 7:29:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - With excessive heat fixed over Mid-Missouri, senior citizens looked for a place to escape the heat on Friday.... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 1:45:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Show-Me State games kicked off Friday morning at 11 AM with a Torch Run at the... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 1:44:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police arrested a man Thursday night after he allegedly went into a woman's apartment and sexually abused her.... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 9:06:01 AM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors filed reckless homicide charges on Thursday against a Missouri semi driver for a highway construction zone... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 8:12:49 AM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A Versailles man previously convicted of child molestation has been charged with possession of and promoting child pornography.... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 7:47:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA heard Missouri's appeal on Thursday after the school was handed a handful of penalties back in... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 6:49:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in Top Stories
BRANSON - One year ago Friday, 17 were killed when a duck boat sank during a thunderstorm on Table Rock... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 5:01:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors filed reckless homicide charges on Thursday against a Missouri semi driver for a highway construction zone... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 4:09:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The new AI face editing app FaceApp has become an instant hit with iPhone users. However, there are... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 3:45:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - An excessive heat warning is still in effect through Saturday and families should take precautions when playing on... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 1:55:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced Thursday the creation of a new program to help small businesses and farmers after... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 12:37:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The 35th anniversary of the annual Show-Me State Games kicks off Friday. Director, Dave Fox, said the... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 12:31:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 11:38:19 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Cooling centers are opening around Missouri as high temperatures and humidity create dangerous conditions. The... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 11:22:02 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - State Auditor Nicole Galloway released her audit of the Lieutenant Governor's office while now-Governor Mike Parson was... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:43:00 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Police Department is asking the public to help identify three individuals. Officers believe... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:15:00 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 76°
5am 78°
6am 78°
7am 77°
8am 82°