Alzheimer's Plagues Generations of Extended Clan
Their plight might yield a breakthrough
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2010 2:39 PM CDT
A Colombian clan's struggles with Alzheimer's might give scientists new insights into treatment.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A large extended family in the mountains of Colombia has the misfortune of a genetic mutation that makes members prone to early onset Alzheimer's in their 40s. The New York Times pays a visit and explains how scientists have begun what could be a groundbreaking study to see whether providing treatment while people are still healthy can stave off the disease in later years.

“To see your children like this, it’s horrible, horrible," says an 82-year-old woman who is once again diapering her three children, ages 50, 55, and 61. "I wouldn’t wish this on a rabid dog. It is the most terrifying illness on the face of the earth.” The illness has plagued the 5,000-strong clan for generations, helped along by intermarriages in the remote region.