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New research offers hope to those affected by Alzheimer’s

New research could give families the gift of time when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease.

Doctors diagnosed David Sprenkel’s wife Nancy with Alzheimer’s 25 years ago, but thanks to scientific advancements and new medications at the time, the disease was slowed, he said.

“I had 20 or 25 years more of a better life together than I ever expected to have,” said David Sprenkel.

“Since I retired, we’ve just been able to do so many things together.”

Now, there’s new hope that researchers can delay the worst of the disease even more.

“As we understand more and more about Alzheimer’s, you see an increase in the immune response – including inflammation – in the early days. And could it be that that’s the brain’s way of trying to protect itself? Clean up the trash if you will and keep the brain healthy and stave off the disease-related changes,” said Heather Snyder, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Snyder said scientists are looking into how to stop the inflammation when it’s no longer helpful, and that could slow the progression of the disease.

“We’ve now started to see very early phase human trials – so phase one, phase two human trials – that are doing just that.”

While any new treatments based off this latest research are still far off, Dr. Jaclynn Faffer with the Naples Senior Center said the findings still have something to offer families right now.

“Too often we look for cures, we look for finite answers – but we overlook the positive impact slowing down the disease would have,” she said.

“The fact that there is something that could possibly slow it down is a glimmer of hope.”

Sprenkel said he knows from experience that time and hope are valuable gifts.

“You can still make memories and still get along.”

The Naples Senior Center is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but to continue helping local families navigate Alzheimer’s disease, the center is offering remote services.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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