New UHealth center takes on fight against Alzheimer’s

According to 2018 statistics by the National Alzheimer’s Association, there are an estimated 5.7 million individuals in the United States with Alzheimer’s dementia. With the rapid growth of the older adult population, every 65 seconds a new case of Alzheimer’s disease is identified.

Recent data suggests that Alzheimer’s changes within the brain may occur over 20 years before the emergence of clinical symptoms and the disease may reach epidemic proportions if a cure or preventative agent is not discovered. With the ever-growing numbers of older adults in the nation, it has become a critical national imperative to prevent and to effectively treat the disease.

The University of Miami Health System’s Center for Cognitive Neurosciences and Aging was established June 1 with the goal of being both a national and international leader in cognitive neurosciences and developing state-of-the-art strategies for identifying early cognitive and brain biomarkers of neurodegenerative disease. The center also serves as a destination center for the evaluation, management and care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, as well as to bring the top minds in Florida to work on novel diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Center investigators are an integral part of the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and have been awarded millions of dollars in National Institutes of Health and federal grant funding. In a recent landmark study published in Journal Neurology, UHealth investigators coupled with others from across the state found that a novel cognitive stress test provided an extremely early marker of abnormal amyloid protein buildup in the brain and could successfully distinguish cases of early pre-clinical Alzheimer’s from other neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. This provides a unique tool for properly screening people for clinical trials for new agents that may more effectively treat or prevent Alzheimer’s.

Without necessary breakthroughs and early detection, Alzheimer’s will reach epidemic proportions in the next decade. As part of the neuroscience pillar at UHealth, the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences and Aging is using the most sophisticated cognitive measures, neuroimaging and brain biomarkers to unlock the mystery of Alzheimer’s and other disorders.

Center investigators including Elizabeth Crocco, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Florida Memory Disorders Center at the University of Miami Health System, know that time is of the essence in taking the fight to this devastating illness. It will take no less than our collective efforts and the finest minds to win the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. It is a battle that we cannot afford to lose.

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