“If we want to find a cure to Alzheimer’s, we have to further study Down syndrome,” scientist Huntington Potter said.
Potter and his colleague Tom Blumenthal testify at a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. recently.
“We’ll be meeting with members of Congress and telling them about the connection and hope this will improve the chances for better funding for NIH,” Potter said.
Potter and Blumenthal work at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, which is based at the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus They’re work is funded by the Denver-based Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
“The connection between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s became known gradually,” Blumenthal said. “As people with Down Syndrome got older … and they didn’t used to … they got old enough to get Alzheimer’s.”
Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.
“And that, turned out to have on it the gene that causes Alzheimer’s disease,” Blumenthal said.
Potter has just concluded trials on mice into a cure for Alzheimer’s. He is cautiously optimistic but very pleased at where the research is pointing.
“We discovered people with rheumatoid arthritis make a protein that releases into the blood and seems to protect them,” Potter said. “The mice that are given this protein don’t get Alzheimer’s disease. Now, we’re starting this clinical trial to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in typical people.”
Potter said there is an FDA-approved drug that he is using in the trials. It is called Leukine and prescribed for people following bone marrow transplants.
“We wouldn’t recommend people try it on their own even though it is an FDA-approved drug. Wait until we do the clinical trials first,” Potter said.
To find out more information about applying for this clinical trial, contact the Memory and Dementia Clinic at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus: http://bit.ly/1qeyxKa.
Not all applicants will be accepted. Scientists are looking for people who have no other medical issues aside from the Alzheimer’s disease.
It may take up to five years for some solid results from these studies.
“It’s among the most exciting time in biomedical research there has ever been,” Blumenthal said.