Experimental drug to prevent Alzheimer's being tested

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Sunday, October 12, 2014
Experimental drug to prevent Alzheimer's being tested
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Researchers are working on a drug that could prevent Alzheimer's disease.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Everyone, no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not, everyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging.

Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.

Veterinarian James Block has dedicated his life to helping his four-legged patients.

Now he's going to focus on helping himself and his family. His mother died of Alzheimer's disease and he wants to know if he or his little boy is at risk. That's why he is planning to sign up for a prevention study investigating a new drug that targets a major risk factor for Alzheimer's.

"I would be very willing and eager to participate to see if I have predisposition through genetic influence or evidence of early Alzheimer's, or the lesions," Block told ABC30.

This summer, the A4 study will enroll 1,000 people between the ages of 65 and 85 with normal thinking and memory function who have evidence of amyloid plaque build-up in the brain.

Dr. Ranjan Duara, MD, Neurologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center pointed out the importance of studying the amyloid protein.

"We know that the amyloid starts being deposited in the brain typically at least 15 years before the onset of the disease and as much as 30 years before the onset of the diseas," Duara explained. "The greater the amount of amyloid there is the redder the image tends to be."

Volunteers must undergo a PET scan where they're injected with a special tracer that highlights amyloid in the brain.

The investigational drug, solanezumab, is designed to target and remove amyloid from the brain. The study participants will get a monthly infusion of the drug or a placebo for 3 years. Researchers are hoping to learn two things.

"Do we have a way of treating the disease before it starts and secondly is amyloid really the cause of the disease," Dr. Daura told ABC30.

Finding those answers could change the future for Block and the rest of us.

The Wein center for clinical research is one of more than 50 A4 study sites in the U.S. The principal investigators are Dr. Reisa Sperling at Harvard and Dr. Paul Aisen at UCSD. To enroll, call 1-800-272-3700 to ask about trial match.

For more information, please contact:

Ranjan Duara, MD
Neurologist, Medical Director of the Wien Center for Alzheimer's Disease and
Memory Disorders at Mount Sinai Medical Center
Mount Sinai Medical Center
Phone: 305-674-2543
E-mail: Ranjan.Duara@msmc.com