September 14, 2008
Dubuque Native Continues Quest to Defeat Alzheimer’s
By ERIK HOGSTROM
News You can use WHAT: Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk 2008 WHEN: Registration at 8 a.m.; walk begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 WHERE: Louis Murphy Park
Kate Cronin will take a needle in the spine if it helps beat Alzheimer's disease.
"I would like to do whatever I can to help advance science," Cronin said, "and to honor my father."
Cronin, a Dubuque native, lost her father, Bob, to Alzheimer's disease in 2001.
Now a family medicine research specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cronin has agreed to allow other researchers to study her.
Studies suggest that some medicines that lower cholesterol might reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but this theory has not yet been proven in humans. Researchers at Wisconsin's School of Medicine and Public Health are studying men and women whose parents had Alzheimer's disease to see if a cholesterol-lowering medication called simvastatin affects cholesterol breakdown, inflammation and a substance in the spinal fluid related to the brain changes in Alzheimer's disease.
"The Alzheimer's Association is very active funding research like this," said Cronin, who is helping to promote the upcoming Dubuque Memory Walk.
The local Memory Walk aims to raise $120,000 on Saturday, Sept. 20, with some of the proceeds benefiting research. A dozen years ago, local Memory Walk organizers were happy to raise $8,000.
"The Alzheimer's Association does do a walk in Dane County (Madison)," Cronin said, "but I choose to fund raise for the Greater Iowa chapter (Dubuque), as this was the chapter that supported my family during my dad's illness. However, funds raised at all walks go to support research activities nationwide."
Cronin attended grade school at Nativity Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1991, before earning degrees at The American University in Washington, D.C., and Emory University in Atlanta.
The simvastatin study will take nine months.
"The study involves two spinal taps as well as memory testing," Cronin said. "You are faced with a series of memory tests. They are quite challenging."
Some of the study participants are placed on a placebo.
"I don't know if I am on the drug or not," Cronin said.
The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk is the nation's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research.
Home Instead Senior Care is a partner with the Dubuque chapter of the Alzheimer's Association during Memory Walk 2008.
"Every 71 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer's disease," said Robert Stricker, owner with his wife, Winnie, of the local Home Instead Senior Care organization. "Our caregivers witness the staggering impact of this disease, not only on seniors but their families as well. That's what makes this project so meaningful for our entire company."
An estimated 5.2 million Americans - 5 million of which are age 65 and older - have Alzheimer's disease in 2008, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Originally published by ERIK HOGSTROM TH staff writer/ehogstrom@wcinetcom.
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