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INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana University scientists are taking tiny snippets of genetic material, and hoping micro RNA will help with early detection of Alzheimer’s. They’ve discovered these small bits of RNA can be picked up in mice long before the animals show any symptoms of the disease. Essentially micro-RNA may represent an early warning sign or bio-marker for the condition.

Dr. Hui Chen Lu is leading the way in this research.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment to stop or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS or Huntington’s. Alzheimer’s alone will effect 14 million Americans and cost taxpayers $1.1 trillion by the year 2050. So the search for answers is on.

IU is also making headlines and progress with its Precision Health Grand Challenge. In a nutshell, IU was given a $120 million investment to find big health care solutions back in 2016. Their lofty goals are developing cures and preventative treatments for things like breast cancer, melanoma, sarcoma and type 2 diabetes. They’ve recruited 33 new research faculty from all over the country and soon IU scientists will be canvassing rural Indiana to collect information and DNA samples from residents of all backgrounds.

They want this data, they say, so Indiana residents can have easy access to leading edge care, participate in clinical trials and get personalized treatment using their own genetics.

In fact, this statewide survey is now underway. Scientists want to reach 2,000 Indiana residents in what’s called the person to person health interview study. Households that are selected will be sent letters of invitation by mail, letting them know an interviewer will be arriving. A questionnaire is included and they’ll be asked to provide a saliva sample for DNA collection.