By Candice Nguyen February 11, 2013
A new drug is being tested at UCSD‘s Department of Neuroscience to help early onset Alzheimer’s patients. Doctors are studying the medication‘s ability to slow down memory loss. It’s part of research being conducted around the world called The Scarlet Road Study (www.scarletroadstudy.com).
Dr. Michael Rafii is one of the researchers. He says, “The drugs are being used at an earlier stage where the patient is not dependent on anyone else. They would remain in the independent stage.” He adds, “What we really need to do is stop the progression of the disease before it reaches the dementia stage.”
Currently, six patients are being treated with this medication at UCSD. The school serves as one of the largest sites in the world. Subjects receive an injection once a month, MRI’s every couple of months, spinal taps and memory tests. The drug works to remove an abnormal protein in the brain called beta amyloid, which is known to cause memory loss.
70-year-old Pat Donnelly is one of the subjects. About four years ago, his wife Missy started noticing he would forget little things like leaving cabinet doors open. Then an incident at an airport luggage carousel alarmed her.
“Instead of letting it go around again and picking it up later, he continued holding it and was plowing into people almost knocking them over,” she described. A trip to the doctor’s office confirmed Pat had early stage Alzheimer’s Disease. Missy worked with Dr. Rafii to get her husband into the clinical trial.
Pat has been part of the two-year study for just over a year now. However, he and his doctors are “blinded” meaning they don’t know if he is receiving a placebo or medication. Pat and Missy say they understand a cure for Alzheimer’s or a medication to slow down memory loss may not be discovered in their lifetimes, bu they are taking part in this groundbreaking research to hopefully help future patients.
If you think you may be eligible for the study, call 858-246-1300.