UM Study Will Test For Alzheimer’s Link

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The University of Michigan central campus.

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ANN ARBOR — In a first-of-its kind study, University of Michigan researchers will provide genetic testing and Alzheimer’s risk estimates for people who are already experiencing mild cognitive impairment.

Researchers hope to learn how people with mild cognitive impairment and their caregivers respond to health education and genetic testing, says Scott Roberts, associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the UM School of Public Health.

Roberts and colleagues will look specifically at how the information impacts the participants’ psychological adjustment and any behavior changes, and evaluate how well the participants understand the study genetic testing and Alzheimer’s risk assessment materials.

Mild cognitive impairment is a common condition where those affected have noticeable memory and thinking problems but can still carry out their usual activities. People with mild cognitive impairment are at elevated risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease within five years, so it’s important to evaluate the different methods of providing risk information for Alzheimer’s, including genetic testing, to those individuals and their loved ones, Roberts says. After receiving their risk estimate, participants will be followed for a period of 12 months.

The study, called the Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease, is a multi-centered research project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Study participants will have the opportunity to learn what it means to have mild cognitive impairment, what their chances are of developing Alzheimer’s, and how to cope with problems related to memory loss.

Study investigators hope to enroll individuals aged 55 to 90 who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and have a study partner willing to participate with them. Recruitment will continue through spring 2012. For those interested in enrolling in the study, contact Lan Le at (734) 615-2422 or revealstudy@umich.edu.

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