Doctors working on Alzheimer's cure

Researchers hope 2012 will be successful year

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease.

That equals the same amount of people living in the entire state of Minnesota, Colorado or Maryland.

There is no cure, but doctors are working on new ways to diagnose and treat Alzheimer's Disease.

These new methods that doctors are studying could be the top game changers of the new year. People like Lisa Carbo are hopeful that 2012 will be the year a cure is found.

Carbo suffers from the disease and has trouble remembering the simple things. 

Someone asks Carbo, "How old are you?"

"Um, 57, 58, I don't know," Carbo responds.

Carbo keeps a journal to remember what she had for lunch, and which medicine she's taken.

So what does Carbo fear the most?  That she won't remember her grand daughter.

"She's the love of my life," Carbo said.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago, Carbo is hoping a new IV drug will stop the progression of her disease.

"Most of the antibodies that are being studied right now will attack certain proteins before they're allowed to accumulate and form plaques," an Alzheimer's researcher said.
Alzheimer's Disease is caused by abnormal proteins in the brain.  These new medicines are antibodies that attack the proteins that cause plaque build up.

Ed Coleman is hoping the same drug Lisa is taking will change his fate. Doctors believe it could attack the proteins even before they reach the brain.

Stopping this disease is critical. Deaths from Alzheimer's increased 66 percent in the last decade, while deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke and HIV all decreased.

Diagnosing it early is key to successful treatment. A new way to see Alzheimer's years before the brain is damaged has been developed.

Doctors inject an imaging compound called AV-45 into patients.

From diagnosis to treatment, these new breakthroughs could impact almost all of us, sooner or later.

"This could be a game changer," the researcher said.

In another recent discovery, a team of researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center found ten genes that account for half of the genetic risk for Alzheimer's. 

They hope identifying patients with these genes could mean earlier treatments.

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