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Fast Facts

  • Scientists are investigating many approaches to treat, prevent, or cure Alzheimer's, with 91 drugs in clinical trials as of 2008 and more in the pipeline awaiting FDA approval to enter human testing.
  • At least 50, 000 volunteers, both with and without Alzheimer's, are urgently needed to participate in more than 175 actively enrolling Alzheimer's disease trials and studies in the U.S. To reach that goal, at least half a million volunteers must be screened.

A gene that codes for a protein that carries cholesterol to and within cells; different forms of the ApoE gene are associated with differing risks for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. This gene may be referred to as a risk factor gene or a "susceptibility gene" because one form of the gene, called APOE4, is associated with the risk of developing late onset AD.

Beta-Amyloid

Derived from the amyloid precursor protein and found in plaques, the insoluble deposits outside neurons. May also be called A-beta.

Beta-Amyloid Plaque

A largely insoluble deposit found in the space between nerve cells in the brain. The plaques in Alzheimer's disease are made of beta-amyloid and other molecules, surrounded by non-nerve cells (glia) and damaged axons and dendrites from nearby neurons.

Functional MRI (fMRI)

An adaptation of an MRI (see magnetic resonance imaging) technique that measures brain activity during a mental task, such as one involving memory, language, or attention.

Insulin Resistance

A condition in which the pancreas makes enough insulin, but the cells do not respond properly to it; characterizes and precedes type 2 diabetes.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

A condition in which a person has cognitive problems greater than those expected for his or her age. Amnestic MCI includes memory problems, but not the personality or other cognitive problems that characterize AD.

Neurodegenerative Disease

A disease characterized by a progressive decline in the structure and function of brain tissue. These diseases include AD, Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and dementia with Lewy bodies. They are usually more common in older people.

Transgenic Mice

An animal that has had a gene (such as the human APP gene) inserted into its chromosomes for the purpose of research. Mice carrying a mutated human APP gene often develop plaques in their brains as they age.

Source: www.hbo.com
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