(ARA) – Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s, and as many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This progressive, irreversible neurological disorder has no cure, but the earlier someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the sooner he or she can receive the treatment they need.
That is what organizers hope people will remember on World Alzheimer’s Day on Sept. 21. That treatment might include currently prescribed medications or investigational drugs that are being studied in clinical trials.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. Here are some warning signs the organization suggests could be a symptom of the disease:
1. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
3. Confusion with time or place.
4. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
5. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
6. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
7. Decreased or poor judgment.
8. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
9. Changes in mood and personality.
If you or a loved one experiences any of these signs on a regular basis, make an appointment with your physician. If the doctor provides an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, there are some options to consider.
Clinical trials are the primary way that researchers find out whether a promising treatment is safe and effective for patients. Clinical trials also tell researchers which treatments are more effective than others. Trials take place at private research facilities, teaching hospitals, specialized Alzheimer’s disease research centers and doctors’ offices.
The biggest benefit of participating in a clinical trial for many families is the regular contact with the study team, according to the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center. Patients are closely monitored by a medical team that includes a physician.
The team can provide advice on treatment of the emotional and physical aspects of the patient and also help with the caregivers’ experience. They can suggest ways to cope and provide insight into what to expect in the future. They also can share information about support groups and other helpful resources.
In most clinical trials, participants are randomly assigned to a study group. One group, the test group, receives the experimental drug. Other groups may receive a different drug or a placebo (an inactive substance that looks like the study drug). Having the different groups is important because only by comparing them can researchers be confident that changes in the test group are the result of the experimental treatment and not some other factor.
Not every patient is right for every trial. But speaking with your doctors, particularly experts in memory disorders, is the first step in understanding the process. They can explain the research procedure in general, as well as which specific program might be the best fit for you.
All trials receive strict oversight from an ethics board, which helps eliminate the worry often associated with clinical trials. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that people involved in studies tend to do somewhat better than people in a similar stage of their disease who are not enrolled, regardless of whether the experimental treatment works. Scientists believe this advantage may be due to the general high quality of care provided during clinical studies.
Today, at least 50,000 volunteers both with and without Alzheimer’s are urgently needed to participate in more than 175 actively enrolling Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials and studies in the United States. One of these clinical trials that are seeking participants is the ICARA Study, whose goal is to explore if an investigational drug, called bapineuzumab, can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. For more information about this trial, visit www.icarastudy.com or call (888) 770-6366.
To learn more about clinical studies for Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers.
Courtesy of ARAcontent