IU researcher helps with groundbreaking Alzheimer’s study

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Patty Whaley will never forget the signs.

“Forgetting to pick up the kids was one of the first signs,” Patty said. “Which was really frustrating because I didn’t understand why.”

At first, she thought maybe her husband was just being lazy. But it still didn’t make sense. Then one Sunday before church, she knew something was wrong.

“He didn’t know how to tie his tie,” Patty said. “I knew then there was something else going on.”

At only 44 years old, Barry Whaley, an engineer and recent nursing school graduate, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Now, at 47, he is unable to work.

“Watching somebody who was so smart not being able to do simple tasks you know is heartbreaking,” Patty said.

Patty is praying for a miracle. And the first steps toward getting there are happening at the Indiana School of Medicine Neuroscience Center, where researchers are opening doors to the mind with some incredible results.

Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Andrew Saykin is part of a groundbreaking study in which scientists combined genetic data with brain imaging to identify a gene associated with plaque in the brain. The discovered a second gene also related to plaque.

“It’s actually an exciting time and I am optimistic,” Saykin said. “These could potentially serve as a target for drug development.”

Saykin said they developed a statistical map made up of 555 brains to show regions of plaque. The hope is to stop or slow the development of plaque in the brain so you can stop or slow the development of Alzheimer’s.

“So there’s an opportunity to intervene if we can detect the plaque early and then develop medications that would interfere with the depositing of the plaque or facilitate is clearance,” he said.

Patty believes this research means hope for her husband and prays he can fight off this disease so he can be an active part of his daughters’ lives.

“I’m very hopeful,” she said.

6 comments

    • Marcella Cobleigh

      Your comment is extremely rude and an insult to all those who have this disease. It would not be funny to you if it was your family. I

  • Kimbely Carr

    I hope there is a break through soon…I knew Barry Whaley as a personal friend and boss at SONY in Pittsburgh PA. He was one of the best…my mother has also developed demensia and her memory is here and there…never know where your conversation may go…it is very hard on all…I hope there is a cure on the way…good luck…and if you read this Barry…good luck you were the best. Love ya…Head of theTeam…

  • Colleen Gasvoda

    That was a great piece. You are so brave to share your story. We all have great love and deep respect for your entire family. Keep the faith.

  • New Sunset

    Good for her to have hope. Hope helps more than people know. After all, without hope you just have negativity, and that will have a very definite effect on your health and chances for success.

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