Barrow seeks Alzheimer’s drug trial participants

Dr. Anna Burke, director of neuro[sychiatry at Barrow Nuerological Institute, said the new drug poses some good news for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. (Special to AFN)

Barrow Neurological Institute is now screening participants in a new, national Alzheimer’s disease clinical research study evaluating the potential benefits of an investigational medicine for people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The study, called T2 Protect AD, is evaluating the drug troriluzole, which the institute said “may have the potential to protect against, slow down, and even improve memory and thinking problems that increase as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.”

Troriluzole is a drug that affects the brain chemical glutamate, which is important for healthy brain function. High glutamate levels in the brain can lead to brain cell dysfunction and disease, including Alzheimer’s disease. Troriluzole normalizes glutamate levels in the brain.

“We are hoping this drug truly makes a difference in this illness,” said Dr. Anna Burke, director of neuropsychiatry at Barrow Neurological Institute.

“We badly need symptomatic therapies for mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease, when memory and thinking problems interfere with daily life,” she added. “What really excites me is that troriluzole has the potential to improve cognitive symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Barrow Neurological Institute is one of more than 40 sites in the U.S. participating in the T2 Protect AD study. The study is sponsored by New Haven-based Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd., and is coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, a large clinical research consortium based at the University of California, San Diego.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) was formed in 1991 and is a major initiative for AD, addressing treatments for both cognitive and behavioral symptoms. The ADCS seeks to facilitate the discovery, development and testing of new drugs for the treatment of AD.

The T2 Protect AD trial comes at a time when Alzheimer’s research is focused on earlier stages of the disease and there are not as many clinical trials for people already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“Simply put, we need to identify more and better treatments for the millions of people already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the T2 Protect Study is designed for that population,” said Burke.

Added a spokeswoman: “There are fewer and fewer clinical research opportunities than ever before. Alarmingly, there hasn’t been a new treatment in 15 years.”

To enroll in T2 Protect AD, participants must be between age 50 and 85, diagnosed with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease and already being treated with Alzheimer’s medications for at least three months. Participants must have a study partner who has regular contact with the trial participant and can attend study visits.

An estimated 5.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from mild-to-moderate AD, with those numbers expected to triple by 2050 without prevention or cure. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative dementia that accounts for 60 - 80 percent of dementia cases.

Although there are FDA-approved medications for symptomatic treatment of AD, their clinical benefits are generally limited.

Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is an internationally renowned medical center that offers care treats brain and spine diseases, disorders, and injuries.

Information: 602-406-7054.


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