Life is the sum of our memories. Nothing should erase these stories of our lives. But that’s the reality faced by over 5 million Americans. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with mortality rates increasing 85 percent since just 2000. At the present rate, half of us will face this disease. The other half will be caregivers.
At CU Anschutz, many of the most esteemed physicians and researchers in the field carry with them the will and wisdom to fight this devastating affliction. Their expertise is attracting other bright minds from around the globe to CU Anschutz to join the fight to preserve our memories and our lives. This convergence of top talent, resources and research is allowing us to exponentially increase the speed toward discovery and to improve the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Huntington Potter is putting together pieces of the Alzheimer’s disease puzzle. He came upon an unexpected discovery when he looked at the chromosomal makeup of his patients. Just like people with Down syndrome, there was a telltale abnormality: a third copy of chromosome 21. It was a familiar trisomy. But perhaps more than that, it was an unprecedented opportunity.
The link he uncovered provides a path toward advancing the science behind, and care for, both conditions. More incredibly, it presents the potential to delay or even eliminate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in some patients. The local presence of the world’s only Down syndrome research institute, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, has made way for a powerful partnership to take shape with CU’s Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Together, they’ve formed a comprehensive hub of innovation where Dr. Potter and more than 20 independent labs are collaborating in their study of both Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome. They have significantly increased the breadth and depth of research into each condition, improved access to clinical trials, and face a profound likelihood, each and every day, that the work they’re doing will change lives, and in turn, the world.