A new study here in the Bay Area might change when patients get plaque-busting medications, granting early access to prescription drugs long before the heartbreaking signs of dementia.
The clinical trial is called A4, short for Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's. It will help researchers determine whether a new drug can help slow memory loss by attacking the sticky amyloid buildups in the brain.
"We always considered Alzheimer's to be dementia. Now we realize that it builds up over decades before the first symptoms appear," explained Dr. Amanda Smith, medical director at the University of South Florida's Byrd Alzheimer's Institute.
The research is promising to patients who've lost family members to Alzheimer's disease.
"I didn't realize he had forgotten who I was," said Ed Hancock, whose father suffered from memory loss. "He would say something like, 'Well, look who's here. How's the family? Great to see you.' It wasn't until one day when we were sitting there and he asked me, 'Did we work together?'"
Hancock's mother also had memory problems; so does his sister. His memory is fine, but he's considered high risk, and seeking help as a part of the trial.
Investigators are using special brain scans to detect dementia-causing plaques in the brain. If the test is positive, patients will be eligible for experimental plaque reducing medicine earlier than ever before.
"I think we're making a lot of headway," Smith said.
The study will last three years and aims to enroll 1,000 health participants between the ages of 65 and 85.
"It all ultimately comes down to somebody has to step forward and participate in clinical trials before that drug will ever come to market," Hancock added.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.adcs.org/Studies/A4.aspx
USF/BYRD CONTACT: Kelly Rodrigo, (813) 974-4904, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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