HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, approximately 400,000 people in Texas are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is partnering with the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio to be recognized as the newest National Institute for Alzheimer’s Research. This new center will be located at the UTRGV Harlingen campus. It’s not only a first for the valley but the entire state of Texas.
The university is joining 32 other national Alzheimer’s Disease research centers. Dr. Gladys Maestre said this new research center will now provide more resources and clinical trials for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s here in the valley.
“As researchers we are really excited to make discoveries that will accelerate the cure and prevention of Alzheimer’s diseases,” Dr. Maestre said. ” We are going to have spots for people independent of whether they have insurance or not… we are going to do full diagnosis on them, including the neuroimaging.”
Dr. Maestre said Alzheimer’s Disease takes a high toll on Hispanics, and being able to diagnose people locally means they don’t have to leave the valley to get the care they need.
“We have a very high prevalence of Alzheimer’s already even without formal diagnosis process just for Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Maestre said.
But this can also help family members get resources on how to care for a loved one who is diagnosed.
Maxine Vieyra with the Alzheimer’s Association of the Rio Grande Valley lost her mother to the disease. She said trying to find help for a family member can be hard.
“Even getting her properly diagnosed was a challenge for us,” Vieyra said. “So I can just imagine for people to not know what questions to ask or know what resources to reach out to or what information that they may need.”
While UTRGV has already been seeing patients Dr. Maestre hopes she can treat everyone in the valley.
“We can have transformative research but also serve the underserved population of the valley.”
The Rio Grande Valley Alzheimer’s Research Center will officially open in October and start clinical trials in November.
The Alzheimer’s Association is also providing resources to anyone who may need it. You can call the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-272-3900