MADISON, Wis. -

For nearly a decade Dr. Sanjay Asthana has conducted a study looking for a way to slow the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

He may have found it.

Asthana, working as part of a national study conducted at 14 veterans administration hospitals, looked into the effect high doses of vitamin E has on patients with Alzheimer’s. Asthana worked with 31 patients at the William S. Middleton Memorial VA Hospital in Madison.

All of the patients received their prescribed Alzheimer’s treatments, such as donepezil and galantamine. Some of the patients received 2,000 units of vitamin E each day while others in the control groups did not. The group receiving the high dose of vitamin E had a 25 percent less decline in daily-living activities caused by Alzheimer’s.

“I think this is very good news for them. It seems to us that in addition to the approved treatment that they are taking, if you continue it with vitamin E that it will slow the progression of some of the most disabling symptoms of the disease,” Asthana said.

He believes these findings will lead to additional research and hopefully one day a cure for the disease.

“I have no doubt it is going to lead to some very effective treatment, and hopefully one day prevention strategies for this disease and eventually a cure,” Asthana said.

The need to find that cure is accentuated by the number of individuals currently battling the disease. Nationally there are currently 5.3 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In 15 years that number is expected to more than double to 13.1 million. Worldwide there are currently 20 million Alzheimer’s patients and in 15 years that number will grow to more than 50 million.

News of the study's result was met with optimism by families dealing with Alzheimer’s. Helene Frye-Osier was diagnosed earlier this year. The study's result offers her and her family hope.

“That’s a blessing. You know, one of the things that’s an uncertainty, there’s a million of them, but one of the uncertainties when you learn you have this is how long do you have,” Jack Frye-Osier, Helene’s husband said. “So if you could change the progression for a say 8- to 10-year progression to a 15-year progression or beyond that is hugely favorable. That gives some hope.”

In addition to medical advancements like this study, the Frye-Osiers credits support organizations like the Alzheimer’s Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin for helping them get through their journey.

“You can’t do it alone, it is crushing,” Jack Frye-Osier said.

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, go online.