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A Promising Approach

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, affects millions of people worldwide and poses a significant public health challenge. As the global population ages, the burden of Alzheimer’s is expected to increase exponentially. While no cure for the disease exists, there has been growing interest in preventive testing to identify individuals at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s before symptoms manifest. 

K2 Medical Research, located here in central Florida, is leading the way in this proactive approach. The privately-owned clinical research facility is home to a medical team of accomplished specialists in their respective fields, who are passionate about making a difference in the community. It’s at K2 Medical Research that they believe their studies hold great promise for early intervention and the potential to slow down or even prevent the onset of the disease.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

To better understand Alzheimer’s disease, and the key research taking place at K2, we spoke with leading neurology specialist, Dr. Sheila Baez-Torres. “Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain, leading to the progressive loss of cognitive function. Often by the time symptoms appear, significant damage has already occurred, making it difficult to reverse the disease’s course,” she explains. “This has prompted much of our researchers to focus on early detection methods, with the aim of intervening before irreversible damage takes place.”

Of course, there are many diseases that mankind continues to face but most doctors, patients and families of those suffering from the diagnosis would agree that the ramifications of living with this particular disease are extremely difficult to navigate and painful to accept. 

“It doesn’t matter what nationality, religion, or background we come from, we all want to age with grace. We want to be able to share old memories, whilst making new ones with the people we love, throughout our entire lives, not just a portion of it” continues Baez-Torres.

Preventive Testing as a Strategy

At K2 Medical Research, people come first. “Clinical research has often been stigmatized as invasive, impersonal and cold. But we have made it our mission to change the stigma and begin a new standard for how clinical trials are delivered: one founded in respect, compassion, and warmth,” says Baez-Torres. “We aim to give our patients a sense of autonomy, equity and dignity. We want to provide the tools that will allow them to advocate for their own health using the latest advancements the industry has to offer.”

According to Baez-Torres, preventive testing involves assessing individuals for genetic and biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease through blood work. While genetic testing can identify specific gene mutations linked to familial Alzheimer’s, it is less effective in detecting sporadic cases. However, advancements in biomarker research, like the research work they are doing at K2, have opened new avenues for early detection. 

“With this type of technology, we can detect the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in a person 10-20 years before the onset of any symptoms,” Baez-Torres says.

Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s

Researchers have identified several blood biomarkers that can provide valuable insights into the pre-symptom stages of Alzheimer’s disease. With a simple blood test, we can identify the abnormal proteins amyloid beta and p-tau biomarkers associated with the disease decades before the onset of the symptoms. Additionally, imaging techniques can measure brain volume and assess neuronal activity, providing further clues about disease progression.

Promising Results and Potential Benefits

Early detection through preventive testing allows for timely intervention, which could significantly impact disease progression. “It provides an opportunity for individuals to make lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a brain-healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and maintaining social connections, all of which have been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s,” explains Baez-Torres. “Additionally, it enables health care professionals to closely monitor at-risk individuals, offering personalized care plans and potential participation in our clinical trials.

Alzheimer’s preventive testing holds immense potential for early intervention and the development of effective preventive strategies. 

“We encourage the community to be as proactive in testing for this disease, as they would diabetes, colon or breast cancer. The goal for us is to eventually live in a world where we no longer have patients suffering from this debilitating disease,” Baez-Torres says. “We also want to encourage the community to continually strive to live a healthy lifestyle, so you can often find our Wanda the Mobile Clinic in the community and at local health fairs.”

The identification of biomarkers associated with the disease provides a valuable window of opportunity for intervention before irreversible damage occurs. Through continued research, improved diagnostic tools, and comprehensive support systems, K2 Medical Research strives to mitigate the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s disease and improve the quality of life for individuals at risk.

K2 Medical Research

Maitland | Ocoee | Winter Park

(407) 500-5252