I am calling Alzheimer's my disease of the year because so much progress has been made on it in 2009.
Besides, if Time can name Ben Bernanke "Person of the Year" some will say we need a disease to go with him.
We know a lot more about Alzheimer's, its cause and progression, than we did a year ago. We also know more about how to head it off. Given my own family history of Alzheimer's, that's a very good thing.
December has been especially active:
A protein called leptin, which we know controls weight, may have a big part to play in delaying or preventing the disease.
This last is especially important given recent findings that football players are susceptible to these plaques, not just from concussions but from the smaller collisions that happen in practice. Boston University has launched a center to study this problem in all sports, and the NFL has issued new guidelines on concussions.
Earlier in the year, we learned that things as simple as apple juice and coffee can limit your risk of the disease. And Genentech found a link between a protein called APP and the development of the disease, which might lead to new treatments.