Local Research Could Lead to Preventing Alzheimer’s Before it Starts

Researchers at UT Southwestern have neutralized what they believe to be a primary factor in Alzheimer’s disease, which could lead to a drug that could be taken by patients long before they show symptoms. If taken for life, they found it could prevent the disorder in 50 to 80 percent of at-risk adults.

Dr. Joachim Herz hopes to stop the development of Alzheimer’s before it starts (courtesy of: UTSW).

If a person contains the protein ApoE4, they are 10 times more likely to develop the disease than someone who has another form of the same protein. The protein causes a build up that negatively impacts nerve cells in the brain, but researchers found a way to reverse the build up. Most other research in the field has focused on stopping the build up of proteins that cause brain degeneration once they exist, but this new method may stop them before they start.

Dr. Joachim Herz is a UT Southwestern molecular biologist and author of the study published in eLife, which describes how the team hopes to prevent late-onset Alzheimer’s, which is diagnosed around age 65. “If we can negate the ApoE4 process early, we may be able to prevent late-onset Alzheimer’s altogether for many people so that they will never get sick,” Dr. Herz said via release.

Herz is a Professor in UT Southwestern’s Department of Molecular Genetics and serves as the Presbyterian Village North Foundation Distinguished Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Therapeutic Research and the Thomas O. and Cinda Hicks Family Distinguished Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research.