Health Care
3:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Butler Kicks Off Alzheimer's Prevention Drug Trial

Researchers at Butler Hospital in Providence have kicked off a nationwide trial of a drug they hope will help prevent Alzheimer's. The trial marks a shift in Alzheimer's research.

Butler Hospital, in Providence
Butler Hospital, in Providence
Credit Butler Hospital

Researchers are still recruiting adults between the ages of 65 and 85 who may be at risk of developing the disease. Interested recruits will undergo a brain scan to look for any sign of the telltale plaques that mark the early stages of Alzheimer's. Those with enough of this plaque build-up in the brain, but who aren’t yet showing any symptoms, can participate. Neurologist Dr. Stephen Salloway is leading the trial at Butler.

“And we think the plaque builds up about 15 years before the symptoms start occurring," said Salloway. "So that gives us a window of opportunity for intervening, to hopefully delay the cognitive symptoms from developing. And that’s the whole focus of this study.”

That intervention? A drug, given intravenously, once a month, that’s been shown to reduce plaque build-up in the brain. Half the 1000 participants selected to participate nationwide will get the drug, half will get a placebo. Salloway says the trial is one of the first to test a specific drug’s potential to prevent the disease from developing.