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Clinical Alzheimer Trial Underway

Volunteers age 65 to 85 are needed for a first-of-its-kind Alzheimer's study. (Virginia Carter)
Volunteers age 65 to 85 are needed for a first-of-its-kind Alzheimer's study. (Virginia Carter)
December 12, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A first-of-its-kind study of Alzheimer's disease is under way, and people who have shown little or no signs of it are being sought to participate.

The idea is to use an antibody to clear out the protein called Amyloid that's associated with Alzheimer's to prevent or slow the onset of the disease.

Dr. Reisa Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer's Research and Treatment, says researchers are conducting a clinical trial and looking for people ages 65 to 85 who have early changes in their brain but don't yet have any symptoms.

"Some people are a little bit worried about their memories even though they're still performing normally, and some of those people are right, unfortunately,” she states. “They are a little more likely to show evidence of Amyloid plaque buildup on these brain scans that we do as part of the screening for the study.."

More than 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's. By 2050, scientists expect this number to triple to 15 million or more.

Doctors say women and minorities are more likely to develop Alzheimer's.

Sperling explains part of the study is to look at why certain populations are more likely to suffer from the disease.

"This trial is really trying to understand that by bringing people in with normal memory, and learning about what aspects of memory change associated with Amyloid plaque buildup, and hopefully preventing them from getting worse," she explains.

Some who volunteer for the study will be given an antibody during the three-and-a-half-year study and others will get a placebo.

"Once people come in and have their memory tested and they undergo a brain scan, if we see evidence of the Amyloid building up in the brain, then this trial is really working on a new investigational agent trying to see if we can prevent further plaque buildup," Sperling states.

Volunteers are being sought across the country. Information is online at A4study.org.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD