Kupuna Life: Looking for a cure to end Alzheimers

Kupuna Life

Seventy-two-year-old Jill McCready of Kane’ohe, is the only person in Hawai’i, and just the 8th person in the world, to receive a particular medicine that could potentially prevent the on-set of the disease written in her genes–Alzheimers.

Kathy Muneno: “How does it feel being one of only eight?”

Jill McCready, Alzheimers Research Volunteer:  “I feel very privileged, as I said, I fit right into a particular criteria level that they had for this study that I don’t have any symptoms yet at all but the levels in my blood show that, they’re low enough and if they were too high I wouldn’t have been able to be in this study.”

Jill is a public health scientist and has relatives with Alzheimers, so she answered the call for volunteers by Hawai’i Pacific Neuroscience.

Seventy-one-year-old Mary Blomgren of Kailua came to Hawai’i Pacific Neuroscience after fainting about 3 years ago. She’s now one of several hundred patients in the world in a different Alzheimers study.

Mary Blomgren, Alzheimers Research Volunteer: “I worked at the Mayo Clinic and that’s also a lot of research. I guess I’m just very interested in that so it was no hesitation whatsoever absolutely I put my hand up ‘I’ll volunteer.’ Even though it’s a little bit on the rough side but you know.”

Rough because of side effects and having to get the medication thru IV infusion here every other week, for two years.

Dr. Kore Liow, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Co-founder:  “The research she’s participating in is looking at reducing one of the abnormal protein formations in the brain  which is called the amyloid protein. The amyloid is an abnormal protein that builds up on the outside of the brain cells of the brain and we see that a lot in the Alzheimers patients.”

Dr. Kore Liow, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Co-founder:  “The research that Jill is involved in is an IV medication just a one time dose aimed at preventing the build up of another abnormal protein in the brain, called the tau protein, but this protein is actually inside the brain cells.”

And these are just two of more than 30 research studies Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience is working on in partnership with global leaders in medicine.

Dr. Kore Liow, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Co-founder: ” We’re very excited, we’re very pleased that some of the people who are pioneering these treatments at the Mayo Clinic at Cleveland, Harvard are willing to work with our local patients.”

Dr. Liow and his wife opened Hawai’i Pacific Neuroscience ten years ago. Part of it is the Memory Disorder Center. 

Dr. Liow says every 69 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimers, and of those 65 and older one in 8 are affected.

His mom had Alzheimers.

He says the highest risk factors are age and genes.

Dr. Kore Liow, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Co-founder:  “You can’t do anything about your genes but we also know that research shows that the way we live makes a huge difference in reducing our risk.”

Jill McCready, Alzheimers Research Volunteer: “Dr. Liow told us about exercise, diet and stress reduction thru meditation, yoga, so forth. All of those things can help.”

All of which, and more, will be discussed at the first-ever Brain, Health and Wellness Symposium October 25th and next spring, put on by Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience and Adventist Health Castle.

The research studies are on-going.  They’re looking for people 65 or older with some, not severe, memory loss. For more information on both, go to hawaiineuroscience.com.

Dr. Kore Liow, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Co-founder: “I’m hoping to find a cure in my lifetime, but if not, I’m hoping to at least contribute to the science and understanding.”

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