In Brief: Disease-modifying drug fails in Alzheimer's study

Published: April, 2010

Alzheimer's disease currently affects roughly five million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Statistics provide only one way to measure the toll: Alzheimer's progressively robs people of memory, personality, and independence.

The leading hypothesis about how the disease develops is that sticky deposits of beta-amyloid protein accumulate in the brain, causing physiological changes that kill neurons and other brain tissue. Yet the slow pace of the disease — with symptoms usually developing decades after beta-amyloid deposits start forming — had raised hopes that it might be possible to find ways to intervene early and slow or even stop the process.

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