Stahl’s report tells the story of how a young doctor and nurse in Colombia unraveled the mystery of a rash of patients who were coming down with Alzheimer’s disease in their mid-40s -- figuring out that they were part of one large, extended family, connected generations back. All of them lived in Antioquia, a Colombian region whose capital is Medellin. The doctor reached out to Dr. Ken Kosik, then a Harvard professor lecturing in Bogota, who realized the significance of the discovery. “When we looked at the family trees, about 50 percent of the offspring were getting the disease. That’s a clear signature of a gene,” says Kosik.
A simple genetic test could reveal which members of the family had the gene mutation that would guarantee they would get early-onset Alzheimer’s. This gave researchers a unique opportunity to test therapies on persons who were certain to develop the disease, years before they showed any symptoms -- a rare window to see whether a treatment might be able to prevent Alzheimer’s. The nonprofit Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix teamed up with the National Institutes of Health, philanthropists, and the drug company Genentech to start a multimillion dollar clinical trial to test an immunotherapy drug to remove amyloid plaque, a substance that builds up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients years before they start getting sick.
CBS News ran the story on 60 Minutes
Here is another video from Yarumal in N. Colombia with large concentrations of the disaease