Researchers at Princeton Medical Institute (PMI) are part of key national clinical research studies to determine if investigational medicines may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in people with mild-to-moderate AD.

AD develops when nerve cells in the brain no longer function normally, causing a change in one’s memory, behavior, and ability to think clearly. During the mild-to-moderate stage, people with AD begin to show significant decline in cognitive function, from forgetfulness about one’s personal history and becoming moody and withdrawn in social situations to an inability to identify the day of the week or where they are. As a result of this decline, sufferers with mild-to-moderate AD often require round-the-clock care.

According to lead principal investigator for PMI, Jeffrey Apter, M.D., these studies are evaluating the benefits of beta secretase (BASE) inhibitors and other disease-modifying drugs on neuroproteins in next-generation medications not only for those already diagnosed, but also for those at risk or suffering from pre-AD.

“An estimated five million people in the U.S. already suffer from mild-to-moderate AD, with those numbers growing at an alarming rate,” Dr. Apter noted. “However, no new drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of AD since 2003. The studies have been launched to potentially help address this gap in treatment.”

BASE inhibitors target the “bad” amyloid protein to potentially prevent it from forming and to clear some of it. Another study may increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain — which is lost as AD progresses — to help stay the progression.

PMI is now seeking eligible candidates to take part in these and related studies. Volunteers need not stop current medications, as the study medications can be add-ons to the current routine. Many have a double-blind phase that involves a placebo, but at PMI there’s an open-label phase as well, so all participants will receive the study drugs for free after the six-month study period.

“One of the great advantages to a clinical trial is the ability to get a drug early,” Dr. Apter added.

Princeton Medical Institute is one of 50 centers nationally to take part in these important clinical studies. To be eligible to volunteer, people must be 50 and older with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, and have a study partner that has regular contact with the candidate and is able to attend study visits.

Dr. Apter emphasizes that clinical trials are a real service to the public good. Not only do they test drugs to prepare them to come to market, but there also is a high level of medical attention given each participant, including a variety of free medical tests and office visits.

Those interested in being screened to participate in this clinical trial should call 609-921-6050 to see if they qualify. All evaluations, treatment, and six-months of follow-up are free to participants.

Princeton Medical Institute, Woodlands Professional Building, 256 Bunn Drive, Suite 6, Princeton. 609-921-6050.

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