For the past month, The Unforgettable Fund has been a flurry of activity andposting has been neglected. We welcomed two new board members, Kimberly Jones from the Visiting Nurse Association and Chris Mee, Richard Mee's son who has bravely decided to fill the shoes of his late father. I can't begin to tell you how much this means to all of us. Their expertise is greatly appreciated and their willingness to join us is just incredible.
This is what's new and it's REALLY REALLY important news:
THE STRUCTURE OF AN IMPORTANT BETA-AMYLOID-DEGRADING PROTEASE--INSULIN-DEGRADING ENZYME (IDE)--HAS BEEN SOLVED! That's the coolest biggest thing in the world to us. We're talking BIG BIG possibilities. IDE can devour beta-amyloid, chop it to pieces and spit it out - I love to visualize that happening to the plaques inside one's brain. And, the coolest thing is, the scientists figured out how to make the protease work 4000% faster than it does naturally!
We're not talking about rushing out to the pharmacy; this is in the lab, under the microscope, but we're talking about opening a new door for future treatment and control of Alzheimer's, new drug possibilities, better drug possibilities. There's also tremendous hope for diabetes treatment as well. How can that be, you might ask? Well, I'm the wrong person to ask, but Dr. Malcolm Leissring will be posting "From The Lab" on www.theunforgettablefund.blogspot.com in a few days and he'll explain things. Together with his former advisor Dennis Selkoe, Malcolm wrote the commentary on the paper for "Nature" and knows this area of exploration well, he's been working with it for the past five years!
We are entering an age of fast-pace information and to keep up takes exercise on our part. I believe we, the general public, can understand this science, it just takes willingness and practice. Also, be sure to visit Mona Johnson's blog - The Tangled Neuron - she recently posted an interview with Malcolm on this subject - Insulin Degrading Enzyme (IDE).
The Unforgettable Fund did an Alzheimer's presentation at the Visiting Nurse Association of Florida in Stuart a few weeks ago, Malcolm presented his research and I presented a video my studio made, depicting one spouse's journey through the other spouse's dementia - the story of my mom and dad. It's a beautiful little 5-minute film, made from clips shot more than 50 years ago, when they were young and the future looked so bright. It's intermixed with current clips of my dad at home, trying to figure things out, walking with my mom at the mall, blowing bubbles with my sister. My mom's narration is certainly just one person's story, and each family is different for sure, but I'd bet most of you would see your loved one in this film - there is a universality to Alzheimer's, the all too familiar disconnect. I'll post it if I can ever figure out how to make it web friendly.
My mom is incredible. She's gotten her first computer, mostly due to Richard Mee's insistence before he died, and she is currently in the throws of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. She improves every day, has an email account - firstname.lastname@example.org - and would sure like to hear from those traveling this same uncharted terrain. The type is about 24 point on her screen so there are no visual issues (I can read it across the room!) and she loves being able to connect so quickly with distant family and friends. I'm glad she decided to make the leap into an area she INSISTED on never EVER even trying. She's the best. But whose mom isn't?
And finally, on a very sad note, The Unforgettable Fund extends its sincere condolences to two fellow Alzheimer's bloggers who recently lost loved ones - Bailey's mother and Pamela's father. I encourage you to read the stories woven in these two blogs. It will sound so familiar yet completely unique. Someday, if we can just get there, this disease will be treated, cured and finally, blessedly, forgotten. The sooner the better.