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New movie sheds light on Alzheimer's disease

Nation's leading Alzheimer's researchers discuss disease at special screening

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A movie that's shedding light on the deadly Alzheimer's disease is set to hit theaters this week and it's already creating a huge buzz.

The movie's star, Julianne Moore, has already won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a young woman dealing with the disease. On Wednesday evening, the local Alzheimer's Association sponsored a special screening of the movie.

News4Jax's Kent Justice is the chairman of the association's board and was the emcee of the event, which also featured some of the nation's leading Alzheimer's researchers to talk about the science and research behind the disease.

"Still Alice" is already getting critical acclaim in Hollywood. But it's also getting a lot of attention from the people who are fighting and dealing with Alzheimer's.

The Alzheimer's Association of Central and North Florida hopes it helps get the message across about the crippling affects of the disease and what's being done to find a cure.

"Still Alice" is more than just a movie to people in the research field. In fact, some of the people in Jacksonville are hoping "Still Alice" does for Alzheimer's what "Philadelphia" did for AIDS.

Before the start of the movie, the crowd of invited guests were treated to a presentation by two of the nation's leading Alzheimer's researchers from the Mayo Clinic,  Dr. Neill Graff Radford and Dr. Rosa Rademakers.

Radford and Rademakers said researchers believe they know what causes the disease.

"We actually do know the cause of some early onset Alzheimer's disease. We do know three genes -- if you have mutations of those genes -- you will get the disease, so there is dominantly inherited genes, but that makes up 1 percent," said Radford.

Radford said the research done so far should give us hope of conquering Alzheimer's.

"Very hopeful, because now we understand how those genes work and it's based on that many of the treatment studies are actually in effect. So based on understanding of those three genes, they work in a very similar way and because they are different genes that work in a similar way, we think that's very important," he said.

The hope today is that the movie will spread the word about dealing and coping with Alzheimer's and to also find a cure.

"Just like to explain to them a little bit of how important it is to find new genes for this disease. Not just for families to learn about their personal risk, but really, every new gene discovery brings an enormous amount of new knowledge on the basis, the biology on the disease," Rademakers said.

"(We want to) primarily raise awareness. One of the things that we think this is maybe going to do is raise the consciousness of people that Alzheimer's disease is not an inevitable part of aging and it's not just an old person's disease," said Kay Redington, the CEO at Alzheimer's Association.

The association hopes people will walk away from the movie knowing more about Alzheimer's.

"Still Alice" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.

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