Crystal Ball For Alzheimer's

FRESNO, Calif.

Last year 57 year old Donna Mills was fearless -- sky diving over Las Vegas. These are the memories Mills wants her family to hold onto in case she starts slipping away.

Mills's mother is struggling with Alzheimer's and three years ago she got the same diagnosis.

"I won't know my husband. I can't imagine not knowing him. But I guess there's a chance that could happen," Mills, an Alzheimer's patient, told Ivanhoe.

Researchers have found a way to determine the risk for developing Alzheimer's in patients who have mild memory problems.

Scientists tested cerebral spinal fluid or CSF for two proteins. Researchers found Alzheimer's patients had decreased levels of Amyloid Beta, which forms in plaques in the brain… and increased levels in Tau Protein- which goes up as nerves start to degenerate.

"When we're dealing with a slowly evolving disease, the changes that occur in the brain and CSF small over time," Leslie Shaw, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, said.

Doctors believe Alzheimer's starts chipping away at the brain 10 years before symptoms show:the goal with this test is to identify people who are getting the disease and enroll them in treatment trials to slow the decline.

Mills knows progress may not come fast enough for her. She's hoping Alzheimer's is a diagnosis her two daughters will never have to face.

Right now there are no treatments that "cure" Alzheimer's- but some say identifying the protein changes puts scientist's one step closer.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at mmedalie@ivanhoe.com

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