(Family Features) – More than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and scientists expect this number to triple by 2050. African Americans are two to three times more likely than White Americans to develop the disease, according to experts.
With the 65 and older population steadily rising, the number of older African Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase.
“In 2010 the US Census Bureau indicated that 20 percent of the US population ages sixty-five and older was a racial or ethnic minority. Current projections suggest that by 2050, 42 percent of the nation’s older adults will be members of minority groups. Among those ages eighty-five and older, 33 percent are projected to be a minority,” according to Alzheimer’s Disease In African Americans: Risk Factors And Challenges For The Future published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The publication also acknowledges that African Americans have been under included in previous research studies that could determine why Blacks are at an increased risk for the disease and risk factors and disease manifestation are different than that of older White Americans.
A momentous scientific study focused on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and tracking it over time, seeks healthy volunteers without memory problems, as well as people who have mild memory problems, and those who have been diagnosed with mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.
The prestigious Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative – or ADNI – funded by the National Institutes of Health, is one of the largest and longest running Alzheimer’s disease trials in history.
Now in the third phase of trials, researchers are studying how quickly things like reasoning and the ability to perform certain functions change in the aging brain. Researchers need to better understand the disease progression in order to speed the pace of discovery in the race to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is extremely important that more African Americans get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly all of us in some way,” said Michael Weiner, MD, principal investigator of the study. “We need to know why and how Alzheimer’s disease progresses in African Americans in order to discover new treatments that could significantly improve the way we treat it in the future.”
The study uses state-of-the-art imaging to monitor brain levels of two proteins called tau and amyloid, both of which are significant indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers track cognitive function through computer tests at home and in a doctor’s office, which includes measuring changes in one’s ability to handle money, a common warning sign of the disease.
“One of the biggest challenges researchers face is finding people to volunteer to take part in studies,” Weiner said. “We can beat Alzheimer’s, but we can’t do it without volunteers.”
The ADNI study needs 800 people to enroll in sites across the United States and in Canada. Researchers are looking for people between the ages of 55 and 90 who have normal thinking and memory function, as well as those who have mild memory problems and those who have been diagnosed with mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. No medication is involved.
Potential study volunteers can learn more by visiting http://www.adnI3.org or by calling 1-888-2-ADNI-95 [1-888-223-6495].
Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner contributed to this report.