Alzheimer's Disease

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia affecting an estimated 5.3 million people in the United States, is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that impacts a person’s memory and other cognitive functions to a degree that inhibits daily tasks and activities. As part of the disease’s progression, physical changes to a person’s brain tissue lead to the build-up of protein clusters (plaque) between nerve cells, making it difficult for neurotransmitters to connect and communicate to facilitiate routine body functions. People with Alzheimer’s disease experience escalating levels of memory loss, declining quality of thought clarity and decision-making capabilities, and become unable to care for themselves.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

The fundamental causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is still unknown. Despite many important gains, the need for targeted research is greater than ever. Medical research has not yet revealed how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There is no approved disease-modifying intervention. Both prevention and treatment are critical to stem the growth in dementia prevalence.

Who’s leading research on Alzheimer’s disease?

The Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center at IU School of Medicine is a multidisciplinary research program intensely committed to the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Project Act to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer disease by 2025. Research on etiology, early detection and therapeutics focuses on causes, early detection and treatment, including both pharmacological and non-drug approaches.

Outreach to local and statewide communities is critical to inform the aging members of the general population in Indiana and their families about the importance of early diagnosis, available treatment and management options for Alzheimer’s disease. Outreach must also emphasize the critically important role of participating in research at the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center at IU School of Medicine.