This article was translated by John R. Bopp
This is truly an incredible story, and very, very hard. At the beginning of the 17th century, a Basque couple reached the New World looking for a better life. Three centuries later, almost 5,000 of their descendants, living in the area around Medellín, Colombia, are living a nightmare that, ironically, might become a key element in the fight against one of the fastest-growing diseases in the 21st century: Alzheimer’s.
A few years ago, a specialist detected that this family had an extraordinarily high number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s at a very early age, usually around 40. The researchers who detected this abnormally high concentration in this family reached the conclusion that what they had before them was a hereditary problem. That made them look into the family tree, going all the way back to the first couple who reached the Americas, that Basque couple who arrived at the beginning of the 17th century. This means that they study has been able to take a census of almost 5,000 of their descendants spread throughout the rural areas of this part of Colombia, many of whom are quite sadly sure to have this disease befall them at a very young age.
This important scientific and medical project was created in order to analyze possible cures for this disease. The goal is to delay, or impede, the start of this disease in individuals who are sure to get it.
We hope that the results are positive and forthcoming, both for the breakthrough that this would mean for all those who might get Alzheimer’s in the world, and also for the well-being of this specific family, seemingly damned to suffer this terrible disease.
BBC News -19/5/2011 – Great Britain
The Colombian Alzheimer’s family testing possible cures
An extended family in Colombia struck by hereditary and very early onset Alzheimer’s is taking part in a new drugs trial that doctors hope will lead to a cure for sufferers worldwide.