Alzheimer’s researchers seek study participants nationwide

In this photo taken May 19, 2015, Judith Chase Gilbert, of Arlington, Va., is loaded into a PET scanner at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. Gilbert shows no signs of memory problems but volunteered for a new kind of scan as part of a study peeking into healthy brains to check for clues about Alzheimer's disease. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In this photo taken May 19, 2015, Judith Chase Gilbert, of Arlington, Va., is loaded into a PET scanner at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. Gilbert shows no signs of memory problems but volunteered for a new kind of scan as part of a study peeking into healthy brains to check for clues about Alzheimer's disease. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — You can be a part of the effort to find a way to stop Alzheimer’s disease. A national study happening in Birmingham, Alabama could change the way doctors tackle the disease.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are looking for hundreds of people to sign up for the study. This is the first study in the world looking into ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, not just treat it.

This groundbreaking study uses a new approach to finding a way to target the amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. Study participants will receive an IV infusion with a drug that could likely remove that protein, preventing Alzheimer’s.

It sounds simple enough, but it’s a huge step in getting a handle on a disease that impacts more than 3 million people a year.

“Right now, there are medicines that could help stabilize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, slow down the memory loss but they don’t eliminate the underlying problem studies like the one we’re doing here are designed to attack the underlying problem, remove the disease from the brain,” said Dr. David Geldmacher, a UAB neurology professor.

UAB researchers are teaming up with researchers all over the country to find the fix. Researchers estimate that 10,000 people will need to be screened to find 1,000 people who qualify for the study.

“We’re looking for people who are age 65 and older who are cognitively well that is they have normal memory and normal function in day to day life but are concerned that they might be on the pathway to Alzheimer’s someday, perhaps because of a family history,” said Geldmacher.

Participants will be involved in a 3-year study. Dr. Geldmacher calls Alzheimer’s disease a major public health problem, saying it’s only going to grow.

“We expect the number of cases to almost triple by 2050, so without an effective treatment to prevent it, this being already one of the most expensive illnesses in the country medicare and other players face a serious problem,” he said.

If you’d like to sign up for the A4 Study, click here.

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