Alzheimer’s Breakthroughs


TED SIMONS: 100-MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE AND THAT NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO RISE. PRODUCER SHANA FISCHER AND PHOTOGRAPHER ROB MCJANNET INTRODUCE US TO TWO LOCAL DOCTORS AND THEIR GROUND-BREAKING STUDIES AT THE BANNER ALZHEIMER'S INSTITUTE IN PHOENIX.

SOUND BITE: ALL RIGHT, BUDDY.

REPORTER: BILL MCCULLOUGH HAS GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS.
SOUNDBITE: 100%?
SOUNDBITE: 99.
REPORTER: IT IS THAT WAY WHEN YOU HAVE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. ALZHEIMER'S IS THE MOST COMMON FORM OF MEMORY AND THINKING PROBLEMS IN OLDER PEOPLE.
SOUNDBITE: LITTLE BY LITTLE IT ROBS PEOPLE OF THEIR MEMORY, JUDGMENT AND REASONING, THEIR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE LOVED ONE'S FACES AND PERFORM ROUTINE TASKS.
SOUNDBITE: DR. ERIC REIMAN IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BANNER ALZHEIMER'S INSTITUTE. A LEADING FORCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE DISEASE. HE AND HIS TEAM ARE DETERMINED TO NOT JUST FIND A WAY TO TREAT THE DISEASE EFFECTIVELY BUT PREVENT IT.
SOUNDBITE: SO WE SEE A REGION OF THE BRAIN THAT IS EFFECTED EVEN BEFORE PEOPLE DEVELOP SYSTEMS.
REPORTER: HE'S CONFIDENT THEY WILL DO IT BY 2025.
SOUNDBITE: NOW WE'VE ENTERED THE ERA OF PREVENTION TRIALS.
REPORTER: THE KEY HE BELIEVES IS TREATING THE DISEASE EARLY ON.
SOUNDBITE: WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SHOW WE CAN DETECT AND TRACK THE CHANGES STARTING ABOUT 25 YEARS BEFORE PEOPLE DEVELOP SYMPTOMS. USING THESE MEASUREMENTS AND USING OTHER SUBTLE MEMORY AND THINKING CHANGES, WE HAVE BEGUN TO DEVELOP WAYS TO EVALUATE PREVENTION THERAPY FREQUENT AS EVERY TWO YEARS AND PEOPLE WHO EITHER BASED ON THEIR GENETIC BACKGROUND OR WITH BIOLOGICAL ISSUES ARE AT RISK.

SOUNDBITE: THE INITIATIVE STUDIES EXPERIMENTAL THERAPIES LIKE MEDICATION IMMUNOTHERAPY. THE THERAPYS ATTACK ALZHEIMER'S GENETICALLY, ONE IN FOUR OF ARE CARRIERS OF AN ALZHEIMERS CAUSING GENE, AND THROUGH STUDYING AMILOIDS.
SOUNDBITE: AMILOIDS A PROTEIN THAT IS FOUND IN MOST OF US AND IT'S A PARTICULAR FORM OF AMILOID, A LONG FORM THAT DEVELOPS IN INDIVIDUALS WITH PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMERS DISEASE.
SOUNDBITE: AS SEEN IN THIS IMAGING, THE LIGHT BLUE AREAS CONTAIN AMILOIDSTHERE IS A LONGER FORM IN PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. AS A PERSON WITH ALZHEIMER'S AGES, YOU CAN SEE THE AREAS OF THE BRAIN EFFECTED BY AMILOID GROWING. WHAT DOCTOR REIMAN AND OTHERS BELIEVE BY PREVENTING THESE ROGUE AMILOIDS FROM DEVELOPING, IT IS POSSIBLE TO STOP ALZHEIMER'S IN ITS TRACKS.

SOUNDBITE: IF WE HAD A TREATMENT THAT COULD BE STARTED BEFORE THE DISEASE STARTS RAVAGING THE BRAIN IT MAY GIVE THE TREATMENT THE BEST CHANCE TO WORK. IMAGINE USING A CHOLESTEROL LOWERING TREATMENT AFTER SOMEONE HAD A HEART ATTACK AND CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE AS OPPOSED TO BEFORE THEY DEVELOP ATHEROSCLEROSIS.
SOUNDBITE: ITS KIND OF AN INTERSTING THING, WE MET IN DECEMBER. WE WERE ENGAGED IN JANUARY AND WE WERE MARRIED IN FEBRUARY.
REPORTER: MARY ANNE MCCULLOUGH REMEMBERS THE WHIRLWIND ROMANCE THAT BROUGHT HER AND BILL TOGETHER NEARLY 50 YEARS AGO. A MATH TEACHER, SHE MET BILL IN SAN DIEGO AND HAVE THREE SONS. BILL, A STANFORD UNIVERSIT GRADUATE, LOVED HIS WORK IN FINANCE. HE WAS AN AVID RUNNER AND DOTED ON MARY ANNE.

SOUNDBITE: BILL WAS REALLY -- ALMOST THE FIRST PERSON TO OBSERVE THAT SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT. HE HAD SURGERY ON HIS HIP AND WOKE UP AND SAID, WHEN I FIRST SAW HIM HE SAID, MY BRAIN ISN'T WORKING RIGHT.
REPORTER: MARIANNE WAS CONCERNED, BUT THEIR DOCTOR TOLD THEM THE ANASTETIC BILL HAD RECEIVED WAS TO BLAME FOR SOME OF HIS MEMORY ISSUES. MARIANNE SAYS BILL ONLY GOT WORSE.

SOUNDBITE: WE WERE TRYING TO HANG TWO LAMPS, LIKE TWO WALL SCONSES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE BED. BILL, WHO HAS ALWAYS BEEN REALLY SHARP -- WE WEREN'T COMMUNICATING. A THING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE, YOU MEASURE OVER, YOU MEASURE UP, HE COULDN'T DO THAT.

REPORTER: THAT WAS EIGHT YEARS AGO. EVEN THOUGH BILL'S MEMORY IS GETTING WORSE, MARIANNE SEES GLIMPSES OF THE MAN SHE MARRIED.
SOUNDBITE: WHEN I SLEEP AT NIGHT, I KICK OFF THE COVERS ALL THE TIME. I'M A ROUGH SLEEPER. BILL, WHEN HE KNOWS THAT I HAVE DONE THAT, HE WILL GET UP, WALK AROUND TO MY SIDE OF THE BED AND PUT THE COVERS ON ME. I LOVE THAT.

REPORTER: ALZHEIMER'S ISN'T JUST ROBBING BILL OF HIS LIFE. AS HS PRIMARY CARE GIVER, MARIANNE ADMITS SHE STRUGGLES TOO.

SOUNDBITE: I'M NOT DOING AS GOOD OF A JOB AS A PERSON, AS HE DESERVES. I ROLL MY EYES SOMETIMES. I SIGH. I DO THINGS THAT ARE NOT THE PERSON I WANT TO BE.

REPORTER: DR. PIERRE TARIOT IS BILL'S DOCTOR AND ALONG WITH DR. REIMAN HEADS THE INSTITUTE. GROWING UP, FAMILY, PARTICULARLY OLDER WOMEN IN HIS WERE A STRONG PRESENCE IN HIS LIFE AND LED HIM TO WORK WITH ALZHEIMER'S.

SOUNDBITE: OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO A GERMAN PSYCHIATRIST NAMED ALOIS ALZHEIMER DESCRIBED A PATIENT OF HIS, A WOMAN IN HER 50S WHO HAD DEVELOPED PROGRESSIVE LOSS OF MEMORY AND THINKING ABILITY AND THESE CRIPPLING BELIEFS THAT SHE WOULD BE KILLED AND TURNED INTO SAUSAGE, THAT SHE WAS GOING TO BE TAKEN AWAY TO A CARRIAGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. AND HE FOLLOWED HER UNTIL HER DEATH AND DESCRIBED THIS DEVASTATING ILLNESS AND DESCRIBED CHANGES IN THE BRAIN HE HAD SEEN UNDER THE MICROSCOPE AFTER SHE DIED WHICH ARE TODAY CONSIDERED THE HALLMARK OF THE DISEASE THAT CARRY'S HIS NAME.

REPORTER: DOCTOR TARIOT SPENDS HIS DAYS SEEING PATIENTS THAT WILL NOT GET BETTER DESPITE HIS BEST EFFORTS. HE'S FRUSTRATED HOW LITTLE WE TALK ABOUT ALZHEIMER'S. A GLOBAL DISEASE THAT AFFECTS ONE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE AND COSTS BILLIONS IN HEALTH CARE. DOCTOR TARIOT SAYS EXPERIMENTAL THERAPIES ARE A TREMENDOUS WAGER. 99% OF THEM HAVE FAILED. HE SAYS THE ONLY WAY TO SUCCEED IS IF PEOPLE STEP UP AND VOLUNTEER FOR ONGOING STUDIES -- LIKE THOSE AT B-A-I.

SOUNDBITE: WE NEED YOU. WE NEED YOUR HELP. WE NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE SHOTS ON GOAL TO TRY TO PREVENT AND TREAT ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. PLEASE, JOIN US. BE PART OF THIS REVOLUTION.

TED SIMONS: IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN MORE ON THE FIGHT AGAINST ALZHEIMER'S, THE DOCTORS ENCOURAGE YOU TO JOIN THE ALZHEIMER'S PREVENTION REGISTRY. GO TO THE WEBSITE END A-L-Z DOR ORG AND YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT GENETIC TESTING TO SEE IF YOU HAVE THE ALZHEIMER GENE, YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT OTHER RECENT STUDIES. AND THIS PROGRAMMING NOTE: ARIZONA PBS WILL BROADCAST AN HOUR-LONG SPECIAL, "ALZHEIMER'S: EVERY MINUTE COUNTS," IT AIRS AT 9PM THIS WEDNESDAY AGAIN HERE ON ARIZONA PBS.

TED SIMONS: FINALLY TONIGHT, WE TAKE A MOMENT TO HONOR A LONG-TIME FRIEND OF "ARIZONA HORIZON" WHO PASSED AWAY FRIDAY. ARIZONA STATE HISTORIAN JACK AUGUST APPEARED MANY TIMES ON OUR SHOW OVER THE YEARS. AUGUST WAS NAMED STATE HISTORIAN BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE LAST YEAR. BEFORE THAT, AUGUST SERVED AS A BIOSCIENCE HISTORIAN, A MAGAZINE WRITER, A HISTORIAN FOR A PRESTIGIOUS LAW FIRM AND AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ARIZONA HISTORICAL FOUNDATION, JUST TO NAME A FEW. HE WAS AN EXPERT ON WATER POLICY HISTORY, AND WROTE 10-BOOKS, MANY OF WHICH FOCUSED ON ARIZONA'S PAST. AUGUST LAST APPEARED ON OUR SHOW OVER THE SUMMER, TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE G.I. BILL.

JACK AUGUST: SOME OF THE -- THOSE THAT OPPOSE THE BILL, SENATOR ROBERT TAFT OF OHIO AND CONGRESSMAN EVERETT DIRKSON THOUGHT IT WAS AN EXTENSION OF THE NEW DEAL AND THEY WERE TIRED OF IT. THEY HAD FATIGUE. FORTUNATLEY FOR OUR VETERANS, ERNEST MACFARLAND, DID THE HEAVY LIFTING. SENATOR ERNEST MACFARLAND. HE WAS A FRESHMAN SENATOR AND HE ACTED LIKE HE WASN'T A FRESHMAN SENATOR. REALLY WENT TO EVERY SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE HEARING. HE WAS THE VOICE ON THE RADIO, NOT THE FACE YET, TELEVISION WASN'T THERE. HE WAS INVOLVED IN TELEVISION LATER. HE DID A LOT OF LIFTING. HE DRAFTED THE MOST IMPORTANT PROVISIONS THAT I THINK ARE THE LEGACY OF THE BILL. THEY IMPACT US TODAY. "
TED SIMONS: AGAIN, WE SAY GOODBYE TO JACK AUGUST, WHO PASSED AWAY FRIDAY AT THE AGE OF 63.
TED SIMONS: TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TARGETS TRADE DEALS. WE'LL DISCUSS THE POTENTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT. AND OUR FAVORITE PHYSICIST, LAWRENCE KRAUSS, JOINS US FOR THE LATEST IN SCIENCE NEWS. THAT'S AT 5:30 AND 10:00, HERE ON "ARIZONA HORIZON. "

Note: The website was incorrect on air, please visit endalznow.org for more information. Alzheimer’s Disease affects 100 million people worldwide. Some of the greatest breakthroughs are happening in Arizona at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. We visit the Institute and hear from the doctors who believe their team will find a way to prevent the disease within 10 years. And, we talk with a Phoenix couple about their personal struggle coping with Alzheimer’s Disease.

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In this segment:

Dr. Eric Reiman, Maryann McCullough, and Dr. Pierre Tariot.

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