UW News

September 30, 1996

4th annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk fundraiser

Note to news media:

To arrange for an interview with Dr. Murray Raskind, associate director of the UW’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, call (206) 764-2063.

To arrange interviews with Alzheimer’s patients or caregivers participating in research studies, contact research coordinator Beth Hutchings at (206) 764-2069.

The 4th annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk fundraiser is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 in Seward Park. For information call (206) 783-6600.
UW’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center advances knowledge of the disease on many fronts, with assistance from patients.

Alzheimer’s disease drops a cloud over the future of people diagnosed with the mind-robbing illness, and brings heartache for their loved ones. But for some people in the early stages of the disease, the opportunity to participate in research into its causes and treatments can give renewed hope: both for them personally, and for others, perhaps even family members, who may be at increased risk for the disease.

While Alzheimer’s disease continues to be the major cause of disabling memory loss in older adults, there have been major advances in understanding the disease. The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Washington has played a leadership role in determining causes and developing treatments for this devastating disorder, in many cases with the assistance of people diagnosed with the disease.

“Participating in the studies gives you a feeling of hope,” said Nita Bixler, a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient. “It isn’t laborious or stressful — in fact, it’s comfortable and pleasant.”

Among the advances achieved through research at the University of Washington:

Of the three gene mutations that account for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, two were discovered at the University of Washington, the culmination of ten years’ work of identifying and following families in which the disease is hereditary.

The UW has been at the forefront in developing and testing new drug treatments. The evalution and approval of tacrine (Cognex), as well as the forthcoming availability of other drugs at least partially effective for Alzheimer’s, received impetus and direction from UW investigators.

UW investigators have made advances in development of medication and behavioral strategies that allow families to better cope with disruptive, agitated behaviors and keep their loved one at home as long as possible.

Research has shown that Alzheimer’s patients produce greater than normal amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol, which may be harmful to brain neurons involved in memory. UW investivators recently discovered a mechanism in normal aging that may account for excessive cortisol production.

UW investigators have made exciting discoveries linking estrogen and insulin to memory function, pointing to new directions for possible treatments that could improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, as well as forestall the loss of memory associated with normal aging.
The UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is one of 28 such centers in the United States, funded by the National Institute on Aging.