I had the pleasure of attending the Alzheimer’s Association Spring Research Forum, naïve as it may seem for me to use the word pleasure in the same sentence as Alzheimer’s disease, there was a real sense of hope throughout the audience listening to the panel of research doctors discuss their updates, findings and breakthroughs.
Alzheimer’s disease has had a lot of media coverage recently, with staggering statistics: Over 5 Million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, but only 45% of people diagnosed are told they have the disease; the 2015 estimated cost of caring for people with ALZ or other Dementias is $226 billion; Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in Massachusetts and currently we have no proven cure, treatment or prevention. This is where the story will change.
The forum I attended was a pleasure, because the over reaching atmosphere was one of hope. I listened to 10 different research doctors, giants in their field of study, discuss many aspects of the disease, preventative care being in the forefront. There was a lot of discussion around recent studies showing that lowering amyloid protein build up in the brain can slow memory loss and degradation! Bringing us to a very exciting preventative clinical trial called the A4 Study.
The A4 Study
The A4 Study (Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s) is testing whether an anti-amyloid antibody, can slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid is a protein normally produced in the brain that can build up in older people, forming amyloid plaque deposits. Scientists believe this buildup of deposits may play a key role in the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease-related memory loss. The overall goal of the A4 study is to test whether decreasing amyloid with antibody investigational treatment can help slow the memory loss associated with amyloid buildup in some people. Source: A4study.org
Clinical Trials – are essential to getting drugs on the market
There are many trials going on, 225 across the USA (hosted at over 700 different sites) and over 30 in Massachusetts. The Alzheimer’s Association has feature on their website: www.alz.org called TrialMatch where you fill out a questionnaire and they pair you up with a study or trail which fits your situation. The A4 study is currently looking for participants aged 65-85, who do not show any signs of memory loss. It is a nationwide study, locally conducted through the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.