© 2022 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Research In Preventing Alzheimer's Disease

Credit US National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center_0.jpg
US National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center
/

Finding effective treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is elusive.  While most of what we hear about the disease is depressing, we may be on the threshold of some exciting discoveries concerning prevention.  Washington University’s School of Medicine is in the middle of this new research and this hour, host Don Marsh is joined by Dr. John Morris, Director of Washington University’s Alzheimer’s Research Center, to talk about clinical trials aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Joe Heinrichs, a resident of Davenport, Iowa, is a participant in the study and joins the program.  He has a fifty percent chance of developing the disease though he does not want to know whether he has the genetic mutation which will cause it.  Later in the program, Tiffany Phillips of the Alzheimer’s Association – St. Louis Chapter talks about a new report detailing the stigma which surrounds the disease.

Show Highlights

For 25 years the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University has developed evidence to show that changes in the brain can occur up to 25 years before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. “So there is a long silent phase in which Alzheimer’s disease is starting to affect the brain but before it produces losses in memory and thinking,” said Dr. John Morris.

We%20hope%20to%20delay%20the%20onset%20of%20symptoms%20or%20even%20prevent%20their%20appearance.%20-%20Dr.%20John%20Morris

He added that the new pre-clinical stage is the optimal time to try to use specific drugs which will attack the process which destroys brain cells.

Previous clinical trials have failed and “we think it may not be the drugs themselves that aren’t doing the trick, it’s that they are administered too late in the process,” Morris said. “We hope to delay the onset of symptoms or even prevent their appearance.”

A listener named Amy wrote us an e-mail during the program asking the following question:

My mom has early onset Alzheimer's - she was diagnosed at 59 but displayed symptoms much earlier. However, my dad does not want her to go through genetic testing to determine if she has the mutation, because they don't want me to be afraid. I, however, want to know if she has the mutation, and if I may inherit it - especially since I live in St. Louis near all of this ground-breaking research. How do I talk her and my dad into getting tested? Or can I get tested without knowing if she has the mutation?

Here is Dr. Morris’ answer to Amy's question.

092412answer.mp3
{description}

Stay Connected
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.