IRVINE ( — Doctors and scientists at UC Irvine are working on cutting edge research to help with the treatment and possible cure of Alzheimer’s disease.

Neuroscientist Dr. Frank La Ferla has restored memory in mice engineered with Alzheimer’s.

He’s received a $20 million grant to duplicate that in humans suffering from the disease.

“Research is our only hope of fighting this disease and finding a way to effectively prevent and treat it once it develops,” said La Ferla.

La Ferla said they’re aggressively studying MCI, or mild cognitive impairment, on the campus at its UCI Mind Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

“We now view MCI as the precursor form of Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

Nearly 400 patients are treated at the institute for the disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people.

Cypress resident Steve Heins, 58, developed MCI in his mid-50s.

“At work, I was basically losing track of the names of people. So what I was doing was calling people by their job position,” he said.

Doctors like Aimee Pierce are conducting research on the impairment, including clinical trials for dementia treatment.

Pierce said patients with MCI may notice difficulty doing basic tasks at home or at work.

“There are normal changes in cognition that occur with aging. These are normal and typical and can include some difficulties with multi-tasking, some problems with word finding…” said Pierce. “That can all be normal as long as a person is able to continue their functioning at work, at home, and with their finances.”

World Alzheimer’s Day is Friday. About 250,000 people suffer from the disease in Los Angeles and Orange County.

For more information, visit UCI Mind Institute.


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