Many of us sometimes forget where we put the car keys or even where we parked the car.
But 93 thousand people in Alabama have permanent memory loss from Alzheimer's Disease. That's expected to more than double by 2040.
However, a UAB doctor's latest research could lead to a new treatment
Research now shows there are three proteins in the brain that together lead to memory loss.
Medication is available to decrease the presence of the one of the proteins, Ab.
But UAB Dr. Erik Roberson says it's not effective. His research reveals the previously unknown functions of the other proteins, which he believes are key to an effective treatment.
Herb Church now follows the latest Alzheimer's research. But he didn't know anything about the disease when he became a caregiver for his partner, Dolly, in 2002.
"That's the big problem. If we don't know what it's doing, we don't know how to target it to make a drug against it," explained Dr. Roberson, M.D., Ph.D..
By cutting through mouse brains, Roberson discovered Ab only causes memory loss when in the presence of tau, another protein. He also found tau combined with the third protein, Fyn, caused more neuron activity, which hurt memory function.
"We think what we'd want to do is have a pill that lowers the amount of tau in your brain or the amount of Fyn in your brain or prevent the two from interacting together," said Roberson.
But a possible treatment or even cure is still years away.
Church wants to be part of that future research, so he's donating his brain.
"It's significant. If I can help someone live a better life or be a better caregiver, it makes me feed good," he said.
Genetics are partially responsible for Alzheimer's.
But Roberson says a healthy diet that a heart doctor would recommend, like a Mediterranean diet high in omega fatty acids, doesn't hurt.
For more information about the disease or caring for someone with it, contact the Alzheimer's of Central Alabama.