Families Hit by Rare Early Alzheimer’s Push for Research

Giedre Cohen, Carrie Richardson,
Giedre Cohen, 37, of Calabasas, Calif., and Carrie Richardson, 34, of Montgomery, Ala., pose for a picture during a break at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, Saturday, July 18, 2015. Saturday for the first time, researchers brought together dozens of these families with the very rarest form of Alzheimer's, young and inherited--patients, patients-to-be and their healthy loved ones _ from as far as Australia and Britain to meet face-to-face. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The rarest form of Alzheimer’s ravages generations as families pass down gene mutations that trigger the disease in people in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

Now, ahead of a major Alzheimer’s research meeting, dozens of these families met face to face for the first time, and asked government and drug company officials why it’s taking so long to find a good treatment.

Alzheimer’s usually strikes older adults, and the toll is growing as the population ages.

But these rare, gene-affected families hold crucial clues to fighting the brain-destroying disease in everyone.

Alzheimer’s brain damage begins decades before symptoms begin. Scientists now think the best hope may be taking experimental drugs early to stall, if not prevent, that damage.

Gene carriers destined to get sick are part of one major study.

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