BOSTON — Two research centers in the Boston area participate in the worldwide “AHEAD Study,” aiming to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are using an experimental drug called BAN 2401 that attacks amyloid plaques that build up in the brain and eventually lead to the devastating disease.
Neurologist Dr. Seth Gale, principal investigator on the Ahead Trial at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says you can see changes in the brain 15-20 years before Alzheimer’s symptoms occur. He says certain people develop a build-up of amyloid plaques.
“The idea is to try to mitigate the brain changes with a medication,” Dr. Gale said. “The drug binds to and removes this plaque or pieces of the plaque from the brain. We think that we can make a difference with people’s rate of getting the disease and ultimately with decline.”
The Ahead Study shared images of what pet scans look like following a reduction of plaque build-up after 18 months of treatment. Researchers are enrolling patients at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Former New Hampshire State Rep. Bill Ohm decided to participate in the study after losing his mother to dementia.
“My mom would be a very talkative person. And then she would begin to repeat herself frequently. And then more and more, and then she just stopped talking,” Ohm told Boston 25 News. “It was tough at the end.”
Ohm will visit the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (CART) at Brigham and Women’s every two weeks for four years and receive an IV infusion as part of the trial. It could be the experimental medication or a placebo. Either way, Ohm says it was important for him to participate.
“I’ve seen the problems firsthand with my mom. And if participating in the study will help others, as well as myself, it’s certainly worth doing. Alzheimer’s is something that you need to get ahead of. I think the studies have shown that early intervention makes a big difference. If the study drug is effective in the early stages, that would be just a terrific treatment for the prevention, or at least delaying the symptoms down the road,” Ohm said.
The Ahead Study seeks participants between the ages 55 to 65 and have a first degree relative with Alzheimer’s, ages 65 to 80, and do not have to have a first degree relative with Alzheimer’s. Participants cannot already be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but have to have amyloid plaque buildup in their brain, determined through tests conducted during the study.
CART at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston University are two Massachusetts locations enrolling patients in the study.
For information on enrolling, you can call:
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