THERES no treatment that works to truly reverse Alzheimers disease, but being able to predict whos at risk can help researchers target potential interventions. Theres been a lot of recent research on the genetics of the disease and how it might be detected early. Now theres evidence published in the journal Neurology that signs of the disease may be in the brain nearly a decade before symptoms, such as memory loss, begin. Specifically, magnetic resonance imaging reveals shrinkage in brain areas that have been previously associated with Alzheimers disease. As soon as a treatment strategy which is effective becomes available, being able to detect people who are normal but at great risk of developing Alzheimers disease is very important, Leyla deToledo-Morrell, professor of neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center and senior author of the research. They would be the best population to treat before further damage occur. Alzheimers begins as mild cognitive impairment, and may take more than 10 years to progress into clinical dementia. There are about 5 million people in the U.S. with the disease, and the number of caregivers is on the rise. Besides memory loss and disoriented thinking, patients may turn violent. But even before the initial symptoms, brain changes such as those described in the study are already taking place, scientists say. Researchers studied two independent groups of adults who were cognitively normal -showing no signs of dementia- when first scanned. Participants were all aged 65 and older at the start of the research. In the first study group, eight people eventually developed Alzheimers dementia after an average of about 11 years, and 25 remained normal. The second group included seven people who went on to develop Alzheimers, after an average of about 7 years, compared with 25 who did not. CNN