Washington University will soon lead a clinical trial aimed at preventing people with Alzheimer’s disease from developing dementia.
The international trial will involve 160 patients in the U.S., Europe, and Australia who have a very rare, inherited form of Alzheimer’s, which typically causes dementia before age 50.
Washington University neurologist and study lead Dr. Randall Bateman says this is one of the first clinical trials to try to treat Alzheimer’s patients before they have any symptoms.
“In most trials in Alzheimer’s disease, people are treating the disease after the damage is being done to the brain,” Bateman said. “And in this trial we’re trying to treat the disease before that damage gets done.”
Bateman compares the approach to treating high cholesterol to prevent a heart attack.
“When someone has high cholesterol we don’t wait until after they have a heart attack to start a drug that lowers the cholesterol,” Bateman said. “We check, and if they have high cholesterol we give them drugs to lower the cholesterol levels, to prevent the heart attack from occurring.”
Bateman says the study will test three different drugs, one made by Roche (Gantenerumab) and the other two by Eli Lilly (Solanezumab and a beta-secretase (BACE) inhibitor).
The two-year study is being funded by the drug-makers and by a $4.2 million grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.*
*Updated 10:15 a.m. October 11: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified a study funder as the "Alzheimer's Foundation." The correct funding organization is the "Alzheimer's Association."
Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience