HBO to feature Nanney family in documentary
Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:00 pm
A Martin family's three generation struggle with Alzheimer's is highlighted in a medical documentary that will air worldwide next month.
On May 10, 11, and 12, Home Box Office (HBO) will air a three-part documentary on Alzheimer’s, titled “Momentum in Science.”
This documentary was filmed in conjunction with research being done by the Taub Institute at Columbia University, New York. One of the featured families will be a Weakley County family involved with this research project for the past 10 years.
Members of the Felts/Nanney family chose to become involved in the research in 1999.
While the debate continues as to the cause being genetic or a variety of yet unknown factors, the reality of AD affecting all siblings in two generations led to the belief that this unlikely occurrence needed to be medically pursued through a research agency.
Columbia University was chosen due to its established record of research expertise.
Local research has found that the first documented family incident of Alzheimer’s in this family was a paternal great-grandfather who died at Western State Mental Health Institute, cause thought to be dementia, in 1914.
Attempts to obtain medical records on this person were not successful as records at Western State are kept for 25 years, then destroyed.
Although none of the siblings of this person were affected by Alzheimer’s it did affect all of his children and grandchildren.
Research teams from Columbia University have traveled to Weakley County three times to secure medical data from the some 20 local participants. Twelve family members in other states were also involved. Brain donations for autopsy have been made from three persons with additional donor pledges having been made.
In August, 2008, the Columbia research group returned to Weakley County with the principal investigator, Dr. Richard Mayeux, accompanying the researchers.
For this visit the Felts/Nanney family was asked for permission to allow HBO to include them in segments of a documentary they were preparing.
After guarded consideration, permission was given. Although it was understood that there could be no editing control, it was felt that this would be another step towards public awareness into the value of medical research.
In addition to the documentary, HBO is editing a book, also titled “Momentum in Science” which will be a comprehensive look at the cutting edge research now being conducted on Alzheimer’s Disorder.
Many of the scientists involved are featured, including Dr. Mayeux, who discusses his genetic research on late onset Alzheimer’s, including research with the Felts/Nanney family.
Research has demonstrated that many diseases can be prevented, eliminated, detected or managed more effectively through a vast array of new medical procedures and therapies.
Vaccines for measles and polio, insulin treatment for diabetes, improved antibiotics, medications for high blood pressure, new surgical techniques, and increasingly successful treatments for cancer are only a few of the major benefits.
Medical science is on the verge of finding cures and new treatments for many other disorders that plague society. Increased research is the key to unlocking the knowledge necessary to finding these cures.
One of the most puzzling and illusive medical mysteries are brain disorders.
Over the last two decades statistics appear to show that there has been an explosing of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s, Alzheimer’s and others.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s Disorder (AD) has more than doubled since 1980.
In addition to the immense human toll, the direct and indirect cost in the country is almost $200 billion a year.
Although not a normal part or aging, the progressive and fatal disorder affects about 5 million persons in America, and is the fourth leading cause of death. Without medical advances it is estimated that the number of those affected could continue to rise about twelve percent per year.
AD was first studied in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. These studies centered on a 51-year-old female who had developed problems with memory, unfounded suspicions that her husband was unfaithful, difficulty speaking and understanding what was said to her.
These common symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease prove not only devastating for the victim but also a source of everyday pain and frustration of the caregiver.
The devastating descent into the world of Alzheimer’s is one of confusion, panic, often hostility, and a seemingly endless search for a world strangely slipping from their grip.
This loss of reality is often called The Long Goodbye as loved ones struggle to cope with someone no longer familiar.
Through research this debilitating disorder may one day be a thing of the past as new treatments and drugs are developed.