Researchers seek to catch Alzheimer's early by peeking into the eyes | 8/29/2017 | Staff
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"Inclusion bodies" of amyloid plaque are visible in a subject's retina in this scan published in Dr. Peter Snyder's 2016 paper. Credit: Snyder et al.

Mark Wolff wanted to know. To him, the thought of suffering through Alzheimer's disease the way his father did—without knowing, and without his family knowing, what he was up against until late in its progression— is worse than learning, even while he's still perfectly healthy, that a possible precursor of the disease has gained a toehold.

Worrier - Nature - Wolff - Dad - Nightmare

"I'm not a worrier by nature," Wolff said. "I just don't want to wind up like my dad. It was just a nightmare what happened to him. He didn't get the medical attention he needed and his quality of life could have been better."

So Wolff, a lighting company executive from Bristol, R.I., enrolled in a trial at Butler Hospital and found out through a positron emission tomography (PET) scan of his brain that he has early signs of amyloid plaque. The presence of plaque, a tangle of proteins that could eventually cause the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease, is a risk factor—even so, Wolff might never develop the disease. Or if he does, it might not affect him for a decade or more.

Trial - Butler - Rhode - Island - Hospital

The trial, being conducted at both Butler and Rhode Island Hospital, is led by Dr. Stephen Salloway, a professor of neurology at Brown University and director of Butler's Memory and Aging Program. It has two goals. One is to test whether the drug solanezumab will prevent or delay memory loss and slow amyloid plaque buildup in people at increased risk for Alzheimer's. The other, via a sub-study launched at Butler Hospital, is to test whether a retinal scan can monitor that progress as well as the much more expensive PET scans. Salloway is working on the larger trial with Dr....
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