Health Colombia , Antioquia, Friday, December 12 of 2014, 17:35

UdeA-led study will test Alzheimer’s prevention drug

Researchers from Grupo de Neurociencias de Antioquia (GNA) at the University of Antioquia will lead a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a drug to treat preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s

UDEA/DICYT GNA director Dr. Francisco Lopera said that 3,500 volunteers have been recruited but another 2,400 participants are still needed. 300 participants will be selected and monitored over the 6-year duration of the study.


The study will take place in Medellin, Colombia, that is home to the world’s largest population with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease with about 5,000 people who share a rare genetic mutation (E280A) also known as the "paisa mutation", which causes the formation of abnormal presenilin 1 on chromosome 14 therefore leading to early-onset Alzheimer's disease.


The study is part of a partnership between the University of Antioquia, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Genentech, and the Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI).


Dr. Lopera said that all previous trials have failed to find a cure for this disease that affects nearly 36 million people worldwide, so efforts are being aimed at attacking and preventing the disease and determine whether the drug can delay or prevent the emergence of Alzheimer’s in people who are likely to develop the disease but have not yet developed any symptoms.


Volunteers who are eligible for the study must be between the ages of 30-60 and have a family history of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Those who are selected will receive free genetic testing to find out if they are carriers of the mutation.


100 participants carrying the mutation and 100 non-carriers will receive a placebo; the remaining volunteers will be given the drug (Crenezumab).


Those who have family members with early-onset Alzheimer’s (before the age of 60) are encouraged to contact GNA by phone (574-2196664) in order to participate in the study.


Dr. Pierre Tariot, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute said that this landmark study has taken years of extensive research and cost nearly $100 million.


“It is impossible not to be touched by the story of these families. This is a great opportunity for us to help. The world is watching us,” said BAI executive director Dr. Eric Reiman.


BAI researchers are working closely with families carrying the mutation.


Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder typically characterized by cognitive decline including loss of memory and behavioral disorders. Experimental drugs seek to prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain, which is believed to play a critical role in the development of the disease. The annual cost for treating the disease is about 604 billion dollars. It is estimated that, by 2050, nearly 115 million people could be living with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s prevention initiative


GNA recently launched the “Forget Me Not” Alzheimer’s prevention campaign which seeks to raise public awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and aims to raise funds and support for patients and their families. It also provides psychosocial activities and specialized workshops designed to improve the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers