Researchers Test Alzheimer’s Disease Patch

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ST. LOUIS – In a study aimed at finding answers for those with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Saint Louis University are testing a new, higher dose of the Exelon (rivastigmine) patch to learn whether the medication will improve cognition and daily life for those with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia.

George Grossberg, M.D.

With approximately 5.3 million adults currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., cases are expected to double by 2050. The neurodegenerative illness begins with memory loss and progresses to severe cognitive impairment, altered behavior and decreased motor function.

“When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, if you ask somebody on the street, ‘Do you know someone with this disease?’ chances are good that they’ll know someone,” said George Grossberg, M.D., director of geriatric psychiatry and principal investigator for the study at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“This is a disease that really affects people on a personal level. There’s a more urgent demand than ever before to find effective treatments for the disease.”

For this study, researchers expect to enroll 15 patients at Saint Louis University out of 712 patients nationwide.

All study participants will receive the Exelon patch. Half will be given a 5 cm dose and half will receive 15 cm. The six month study is double-blind, which means neither study participants nor their doctors will know which dose patients are receiving.

Exelon belongs to a class of drugs used for Alzheimer’s patients with memory disorders. Its use in the research study is investigational and is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for severe Alzheimer’s-related dementia or at the 15 cm dose.

Investigators are enrolling patients 50 years or older who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia. Participants must have a reliable caregiver to accompany them to doctor’s office visits, help apply the medication and report on patients’ conditions.

Participants may not be taking other medications, such as Aricept or Razadyne; however, they may be taking memantine (also known as Namenda) if they have been on a stable dose for the past three months.

Patients will receive all study related tests and medications at no cost. This study is sponsored by Novartis.

To learn more about the study, call Saint Louis University at (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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