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In battle against Alzheimer's, an army of volunteers are needed

Kim Campbell, widow of singer Glen Campbell, explains how her husband's bout with Alzheimers disease devastated her family. Cambpell was the keynote speaker at Lehigh Valley Caregivers Retreat at DeSales University.

I’ve been an Alzheimer’s researcher for almost 50 years, but I’m also a son who recently lost his mother to this dreadful disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and affects 5.7 million Americans – including 110,000 in Maryland. It’s also our nation’s costliest disease at an estimated $277 billion annually. By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is likely to triple and costs could rise to $1.1 trillion per year. This is a crisis, but there is something each of us can do.

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The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, or ADNI, is the largest and longest-running Alzheimer’s clinical trial, and it’s taking place at Johns Hopkins University. It’s funded by the National Institutes of Health and is focused on the detection of early Alzheimer’s disease and tracking its progression over time. We are looking for healthy volunteers, ages 55 to 90, who have mild memory problems, as well as those who have been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease. There is no medication involved.

Anyone who has witnessed someone battle this disease knows how devastating it is. Alzheimer’s robs people of both their future and their past. We need volunteers to better understand what happens in the aging brain so that we can better diagnose, treat and, one day, cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Please call 1-888-223-6495 or visit ADNI3.org for more information or to join us.

Dr. Michael Weiner, San Francisco, Calif.

The writer is lead investigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

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