Should You Join An Alzheimer's Study?

Women fear developing Alzheimer's disease more than having a heart attack or stroke or developing cancer. One reason is that cancer, heart attack, and stroke are treatable, but there is little an individual can do to arrest the progress of Alzheimer's disease. One thing individuals can do is to take part in a clinical trial, according to the publication Harvard Women's Health Watch.

"There are now opportunities to do something, perhaps to reduce your own risk and also to help the next generation see Alzheimer's disease as completely preventable," Dr. Reisa Sperling, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, told the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Clinical trials to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and to slow its progress are now under way across the country and around the world.

Preventing Alzheimer's disease

New or upcoming clinical trials are testing drugs that go after amyloid plaques. These are clumps of protein that form in the brain. Plaque deposits have been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Large nationwide studies of plaque-fighting drugs in people who have amyloid plaques in their brains but no symptoms of Alzheimer's include the following:

The A4 study. Sperling is a principal investigator of this study, which is testing the effectiveness of solanezumab, an antibody that helps remove amyloid from the brain.

The LEARN study. Researchers will use imaging and memory tests to compare people without amyloid plaques to the placebo group in the A4 study. The goal is to look for other factors that may contribute to cognitive decline or cognitive resilience.

The A5 study. Researchers will test the effects of an oral drug called a beta secretase inhibitor, which is designed to prevent new amyloid plaques from developing in the brain.

Two major trials will test drugs designed to treat people who have mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease. The Amaranth Study will test the effectiveness of a drug called a beta-secretase inhibitor. Another study called NOBLE will test different doses of the drug T-817MA, which protects brain cells against the toxic effects of amyloid.

According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, you can get information on participating in studies by contacting the National Institute on Aging at 800-438-4380. You can also visit  or visit

To subscribe to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, click here


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