Professor Claudia H. Kawas (Neurobiology and Behavior), a distinguished clinician scientist, studies Alzheimer’s disease and aging in the oldest old (people over 90 years of age). Professor Kawas was prominently featured in the 60 Minutes November special on Alzheimer’s disease, titled “The Alzheimer’s Laboratory.” In the feature, Professor Kawas talked about her past experiences as an Alzheimer’s researcher and gave her expert commentary on the importance of a new study featured in the special. Professor Kawas and researchers like her hope that the study, involving Alzheimer’s susceptible individuals in Antioquia, Colombia, will help finally shed light on how to combat the disease.
The region of Antioquia is home to the largest concentration of people who carry a rare genetic mutation that results in 100% of carriers developing Alzheimer’s. A multimillion dollar collaboration, involving the National Institutes of Health, the drug company Genentech, and philanthropists, is attempting to find out for the first time if Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented if treated before symptoms occur. The study will involve testing an immunotherapy drug to remove a toxic protein believed to cause the disease, however, results of the study won’t be known for several years.
“If it makes a difference for them, I think there’s a reasonable chance it could make a difference for all the rest of the people who get Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor Kawas.