Yarumal, a small village located in Columbia, could hold the key to finding a cure to Alzheimer's if research can continue to go forward.
Many of the people who live in this portion of the Andes Mountains have one devastating common denominator, and that is a high occurrence of the genetic mutation that is very common among those diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
The locals refer to it as the Yarumal Curse, however this negative effect could be a ray of hope for millions of Alzheimer's sufferers all over the world.
In Yarumal, there are residents as young as the age of 49 already showing clear signs of Alzheimer's damaging effects on the brain.
The disease which is caused by a high level of toxins that destroy the brain cells, eventually causes the patient to suffer from memory loss and later death.
It is a terrible fate for those who live in fear of contracting the disease themselves, for many of the residents of Yarumal, it seems like only a matter of time.
Family members of those who have already developed the disease have watched their parents and loved ones quickly transform from a happy and active individual to a restless and aggressive soul that constantly must be supervised.
It is the same for many individuals all over the world, however in this Colombian village the rates are undoubtedly much higher.
It is believed that the gene has been passed down from the village's European ancestors. Known as a Paisa genetic mutation, this condition has been found to cause a form of early onset Alzheimer's.
The mutation is located on the 14th chromosome and a single parent is able to pass down the gene to their children.
Those who are born with the gene have a fifty percent chance of developing Alzheimer's as early as age 40. In some cases, both parents and children have developed the disorder at the same time.
One Person's Misfortune is Another's Hope
This devastating news can help bring new hope to Alzheimer sufferers around the globe thanks to a neurologist by the name of Francisco Lopera.
He grew up in the Colombian village and hopes that he can find some light at the end of this disastrous tunnel.
Lopera was the head of the neuroscience program at the University of Antioquia and was determined to find reliable treatment options to prevent Alzheimer'.
For several months now, he has been testing an experimental drug on healthy patients who have the paisa mutation. The results are expected to be revealed around the year 2020.
These trials are part of a $100 million dollar project by major pharmaceutical company Roche and the National Institutes of Health and Banner Research in the US.
Lopera's drug has an active molecule that targets the damaging proteins which effect the brain, in a effort to possibly weaken or eliminate the effects of Alzheimer's.
With a brand new case of Alzheimer's being diagnosed every four seconds all around the world, the amount of people with the condition is expected to rise to as much as 66 million in 2030 if a cure is not found in time.
However with studies and trials like Lopera's protein defeating drug, the hope for the future looks a little brighter.