UK opens new center dedicated to dementia, Alzheimer’s research

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Posted at 11:15 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 23:15:55-04

For decades, researchers at the University of Kentucky have studied aging. Now, a doctor there thinks they could be close to a treatment to stop or slow Alzheimer's. Monday, they celebrated the opening of a new facility, the Sanders-Brown Memory Clinic at UK HealthCare's Turfland Campus where they hope to make that breakthrough.

"This is a disease that affects everyone. It's not a disease that a person can hide. It's going to not only affect the patient. It's going to affect their spouse, their children, their friends, all aspects of their life," said Dr. Gregory Jicha.

Dr. Gregory Jicha has been at the center for decades. The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging had humble beginnings.

"When I first came here to the University of Kentucky, we had a very small 200-square-foot building. I've watched that grow over the last several decades. Our last building was 6,000 square feet in a little strip mall and it was great. We were able to do our work, but we've outgrown that," Dr. Jicha said.

Now, in a brand new 15,000-square-foot facility, the people at the Sanders-Brown Memory Clinic are aiming to do big things.

"I believe we're very close, very close to the first treatments that will slow or stop Alzheimer's. We're probably a long way away from any kind of medicines or interventions that will reverse the process, so again, early detection is critical," he said. "I believe in the next five to ten years, we will have a whole new armament of medications. We're testing over 20 medicines right here at the University of Kentucky. There are 124 in the pipeline. We believe our 20 stands the highest chance for success."

Beyond the hope for an Alzheimer's cure, researchers here hope they can improve the lives of all Kentuckians as they age.

"We are here, actually, to understand what goes wrong in the entire aging population, to assist in research in the area of Parkinson's, gate imbalance, other disorders that affect the elderly, really a one-stop shop for what we can do to make the golden years golden. That really is the importance of the center, overall," Jicha said.