Older Individuals With Normal Thinking and Memory Function Sought To Test New Drug That May Slow Memory Loss

Rush and Northwestern Will Test Investigational Drug Aimed at Decreasing Amyloid Plaque Build Up in the Brain

Released: 16-Jun-2014 8:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Rush University Medical Center
Contact Information

Available for logged-in reporters only

Newswise — (CHICAGO)—A new research study at Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern Medicine is testing whether a new investigational treatment can slow the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The study will include men and women ages 65 to 85 who have normal thinking and memory function but who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) memory loss sometime in the future.

The purpose of the research study, called the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study (the "A4 study" for short), is to test whether a new investigational drug, called an amyloid antibody, can slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Amyloid is a protein normally produced in the brain that can build up in older people, forming amyloid plaque deposits. Scientists believe this buildup of deposits may play a key role in the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease-related memory loss and dementia. The overall goal of the A4 study is to test whether decreasing amyloid with antibody investigational drug can help slow the memory loss associated with amyloid buildup in some people.

“There exists no effective preventive treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which we now know may be an underlying cause of five to six times as many deaths than commonly reported, said Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, a neurologist and Rush site principal investigator. “This new study gives us hope, but we need to increase our efforts, both in the hospital clinics and in the community, to enroll a diverse group of study participants including Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American males and females to understand the specific outcomes of this study on each group.”

The A4 study institutions are beginning to enroll participants at more than 60 sites throughout the U.S., Canada and in Australia. Rush and Northwestern are the only two Illinois sites for the study.

Dr. Sandra Weintraub, neuropsychologist and Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine site principal investigator, stated: “The A4 trial is a landmark study to prevent Alzheimer's disease. To date, our focus has been on trying to cure the disease but we have learned that by the time memory loss appears, it is too late. The information we gain from the A4 study will help us to know if it is possible to stop the disease before it affects thinking abilities and daily functioning. Northwestern is committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with Rush to bring this ground-breaking research to all the diverse communities represented in the Chicagoland area. Having two study sites in Chicago allows us to open up more opportunities for more people to participate.”

Participants who are selected for the study will be assigned at random to receive either the investigational drug or a placebo and will be monitored over the three-year duration of the study that is designed to evaluate the effectiveness, safety and tolerability of the investigational drug, Solanezumab, for AD.

Solanezumab is an antibody that helps the brain clear amyloid and may also prevent amyloid plaques from forming. It has been tested in individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia but at that point treatment may have been too late because memory has already been damaged to the point that is irreversible.

Individuals interested in the study should have no outward signs of Alzheimer’s dementia or early memory loss that leads to the dementia but must be cognitively normal for their age and have an “elevated” level of amyloid plaque in their brain. Physicians and researchers will use an imaging test called a PET scan to determine whether a potential participant has evidence of this amyloid buildup. People who do not show evidence of elevated amyloid in their brains will not be able to participate, but may be asked to participate in a separate study. This group will not receive the investigational drug or placebo (i.e., an inactive substance designed to mimic the appearance of a drug), but will complete the same memory tests every six months to compare changes in cognition over time.

Individuals who are interested in participating in the A4 study can learn more by calling 844-A4STUDY (844-247-8839), or online by visiting http://a4Study.orgs

Individuals may also contact the following: Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center – 312-563-4111;
Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center – 312-503-2486.

The A4 study is funded by the National Institute on Aging, Eli Lilly and Company and several philanthropic organizations. The A4 trial is coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, located at the University of California, San Diego.

###

About Rush
Rush (http://www.rush.edu) is a not-for-profit academic medical center comprising Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health.
The Rush Alzheimer's Disease Core Center is one of 29 Alzheimer's disease research centers across the country designated and funded by the National Institute on Aging. Investigators are focused on four main areas of research, including risk factors, neurological basis of the disease and improving diagnosis and treatment.
About Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine® is the collaboration between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine around a strategic vision to transform the future of healthcare. It encompasses the research, teaching and patient care activities of the academic medical center. Sharing a commitment to superior quality, academic excellence and patient safety, the organizations within Northwestern Medicine comprise more than 9,000 clinical and administrative staff, 3,100 medical and science faculty and 700 students. The entities involved in Northwestern Medicine remain separate organizations. Northwestern Medicine is a trademark of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and is used by Northwestern University.

The Northwestern Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center is among 29 centers funded by the National Institute on Aging since 1996. Areas of research include Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and treatment, molecular and genetic aspects of frontotemporal dementia and mechanisms of highly preserved cognitive aging.


Comment/Share