ALZHEIMER DISEASE (AD) is the most common form of dementia, affecting 5% of the elderly population older than 65 years and reaching epidemic levels in people older than 80 years. The annual direct and indirect cost of caring for 3 to 4 million affected individuals in the United States is more than $50 billion. The incalculable costs are the heavy emotional burden on spouses and family caregivers and the tragic loss of self to the affected individual. An intensive research effort is under way aimed at identifying underlying causes, factors contributing to progression, early diagnostic methods, and therapeutic strategies for treatment and perhaps prevention of AD. The course these investigations have taken has been greatly influenced by genetic studies that have identified some of the genes involved in AD.
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