ST. LOUIS — Once a year, Brian Whitney flies from Seattle to St. Louis to participate in a study for a disease of which he may never have a symptom.

“This is my only way of fighting this disease. There is nothing I can do to change my outcome. I will get it or I won't,” Whitney said.

Whitney has a genetic mutation that can cause Alzheimer’s in middle age. Some of his family members were diagnosed in their 50s and died soon after.

Researchers at Washington University are leading the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit study. The goal is to find the root causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s. Two drugs are being tested. 

“They'll analyze data and see if any of these drugs have been affected in slowing down the onset of Alzheimer's disease,” said Washington University neurology professor Dr. Joy Snider.

Dr. Snider said the results of the study will be released early next year.

“There's been increasing recognition that Alzheimer's Disease is going to be the next epidemic, as all of us baby boomers get older there's going to be a whole lot of us with  Alzheimer's,” Dr. Snider said. “If we don't find a treatment, a prevention, it's going to get challenging with for our healthcare.”

Whitney has spent years in the study and says it will be worth it for the millions impacted by Alzheimer’s and for one person in particular: his 9-year-old daughter, Emily.

“My participation in this study is for my daughter,” Whitney said. “I've been told that I sound a little pessimistic, but if I can be the sacrifice to gain knowledge for these doctors and researches so she can have a healthy life, I'm ok with that.”

Anyone interested in enrolling or getting more information on the study may call WU Volunteer for Health at (314) 362-1000 or visit https://dian.wustl.edu/

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