ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - There is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease and not much available in the way of treatment.
But back in the 1990s, Washington University discovered a genetic mutation that can predict with certainty the development of the disease.
Very few people carry that mutation, but enough have it for Washington University researchers to test three drugs that could offer hope for them, and the larger search for a cure.
The principal investigator for the trial is Dr. Randall Bateman of the Washington University School of Medicine, "The focus of this trial is to try to treat the disease at its earlier stages and in some cases-- in many cases it will be even before symptoms start."
The one thing all Alzheimer's patients have in common is something called Beta Amaloyd, a protient that forms the plaque on the brain that robs it of function.
Researchers hope if they are unable to find a way to stop Alzheimer's, at least one of the drugs might slow its progress.
The study will include 240 people from the U.S., Britain and Australia. One of them, Joe Heinrichs, 47, from Davenport, Iowa, is participating in the study with his five siblings. His father died from Alzheimer's.
He chose to volunteer for the study, but does not want to be told if he has the genetic mutation that would guarantee he will get the disease, "Whether or not I have it, I accept that. I'm doing it for my kids. If it does affect me, I understand, but I definitely want to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't affect my kids."
Dr. Bateman hopes a positive outcome could lead to a cure for everyone with the disease, "We hope that we are able to demonstrate that we are able to prevent Alzheimer's Disease in the people who have the highest risk of Alzheimer's Disease and by doing so, demonstrate that the disease can be prevented and that can pave the way for future prevention trials."