07:39am Monday 16 December 2019

Researchers Aim to Put the Brakes on Alzheimer's

Researchers at Saint Louis University are studying a drug for patients who show early signs of Alzheimer’s disease as a part of a multi-center trial being held at nearly 70 centers in North America and Europe. The medication is being tested for safety, tolerability and efficacy, with the hope that it may help ward off the debilitating illness.

George Grossberg, M.D.

“By learning more about the early stages of the illness, we may be able to delay or prevent full Alzheimer’s,” said George Grossberg, M.D., director of geriatric psychiatry and principal investigator for the study at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. “With this study, we want to know if a medication can help people who may be having a few senior moments, before those issues develop into daily memory problems that affect their ability to function on a regular basis.”

Approximately 5.3 million adults in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the number of cases is expected to double by 2050. The neurodegenerative illness begins with memory loss and progresses to severe cognitive impairment, altered behavior and decreased motor function.

Researchers are studying the earliest phase of the illness, called prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. During this stage, patients may experience memory loss or mild cognitive impairment.

Recent studies suggest that early Alzheimer’s disease can be detected with biomarkers in spinal fluid. Using this information, researchers hope to alter the course of the illness by treating it early. There is no current drug therapy for prodromal Alzheimer’s disease.

Investigators will test an investigational medication, BMS-708163, a drug researchers hope may hinder enzymes that form damaging beta-amyloid plaques, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

World-wide, around 270 patients will be enrolled in the study. All patients will be randomly assigned to receive either the study drug or a placebo.

Researchers are enrolling patients in the study between the ages of 45 and 90 who have symptoms suggestive of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory complaints or mild cognitive impairment. Participants will undergo testing of their cerebrospinal fluid to confirm changes suggestive of Alzheimer’s disease.

Study participants may continue taking certain, study-approved prescription medications they are currently taking for Alzheimer’s disease if they have been on a stable dose for at least three months. Participants must be accompanied by a reliable study partner with whom they spend at least 5 hours per week.

For more information about the study, call (314) 977-4900.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.

Carrie Bebermeyer

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