In the 116 years since Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer discovered the disease that bears his name, not much has changed. The research path has been vexing, while the need for progress has become urgent — especially as people live longer.
Among people who make it to age 85, some 50 percent will have Alzheimer’s, which afflicts slightly more women than men. Consequently, most everyone knows someone who is suffering or has died from the disease.
Late last year, U.S. research on Alzheimer’s received a significant boost in funding. And recently — aided by new tools — scientists, doctors, and engineers around the world have been making fascinating inroads, including at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which collaborates with Emory University’s highly regarded Alzheimer’s research center.
Some of their insights include: Alzheimer’s may work much like mad cow disease. It also may have aspects of inflammatory disease. And a special light has caused immune cells in the brains of mice to clean up bad proteins that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.