Federal government to launch major Alzheimer's study

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Researchers are getting ready to begin recruiting 55- to 90-year-olds for a major government study to track early Alzheimer's disease, the National Institute on Aging said Wednesday.

The $60 million, five-year study will examine about 800 subjects who are healthy, have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or have Alzheimer's to find early warning signs that can help doctors in the future identify people at highest risk for developing the disease.

Patients in the study will undergo MRIs for brain-scanning and other tests to discover if certain types of people suffer from MCI or other signs of early-stage Alzheimer's. Researchers will compare over several years biological changes within these patients' brains to the changes in the brains of cognitively healthy seniors.

The government will fund most of the study, while about one-third of the cost will be covered by pharmaceutical companies and the nonprofit Alzheimer's Association.