Raleigh company develops program to help prevent Alzheimer's

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Friday, June 19, 2020
Raleigh company develops program to help prevent early onset Alzheimer's
Roughly one in every four Americans are affected by a genetic marker that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. On Thursday, a Raleigh company announced a methodology doctors can apply to help prevent the onset of symptoms.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- One of the big developments in the quest to understand Alzheimer's was when researchers at Duke discovered a genetic marker for the risk of developing the disease. It exists in one in every four Americans.

So two big developments in the disease today could affect more than 80-million people.

"What we're announcing today, is the availability of a methodology that doctors can apply to their patients to help them prevent the onset of symptoms," Vik Chandra told ABC11.

Chandra's Raleigh company uMETHOD is already using artificial intelligence to treat people with Alzheimer's. Now, they've come up with a program to find and treat the disease in people years before the symptoms usually start.

"This targets individuals in their 40s and 50s well before they get into the age group where they will begin to have memory issues," he said.

Before making a personalized diagnosis, uMETHOD's artificial intelligence analyzes among other things a person's DNA, bloodwork, medical history, and behaviors.

"Our system will process these thousands of data points on a patient and apply the available research and create a prevention plan that doctors use to help patients," Chandra said.

Raleigh entrepreneur Cindy Eckert was so excited about uMETHOD's program she became an investor. She's passionate about women's health issues and notes that two-thirds of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's are women.

She also has a personal stake.

"I am one who has done one of these genetic profiles and actually revealed that I have a predisposition for this condition. And therefore I'm so urgently looking for a solution to prevent this," she said.

Once uMETHOD develops a personalized diagnosis the program then makes recommendations on treatment.

"They give me a very personalized path," Eckert said. "It may be things like diet modification. It may be issues like getting your thyroid into a certain range. What we have learned along the way is that Alzheimer's is really a constellation of issues."

She also noted the announcement by uMETHOD isn't the only Alzheimer's prevention news today.

The Cleveland Clinic opened its Women's Alzheimer's Movement Prevention Center in Las Vegas saying, "I see this as a game-changing moment in Alzheimer's."

And this is also a big day for Chandra whose grandmother had Alzheimer's.

Normally staid, the data analyst's face lit up when asked about today's big announcements on Alzheimer's prevention.

"The fact that we can help an individual not get or improve the symptoms, there's nothing more energizing than that that I have ever experienced," he said.

Hopefully, this day will indeed fulfill its promise to history.