Fight Alzheimer's By Taking Part in a Clinical Trial, From the July 2015 Harvard Women's Health Watch

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Several clinical trials are testing promising new drugs to prevent and treat dementia.

Women fear developing Alzheimer's disease more than having a heart attack or stroke or developing cancer. One reason is that cancer, heart attack, and stroke are treatable, but there is little an individual can do to arrest the progress of Alzheimer's disease. One thing individuals can do is to take part in a clinical trial, reports the July 2015 Harvard Women's Health Watch.

"There are now opportunities to do something, perhaps to reduce your own risk and also to help the next generation see Alzheimer's disease as completely preventable," says Dr. Reisa Sperling, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Clinical trials to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and to slow its progress are now under way across the country and around the world.

Preventing Alzheimer's disease:

New or upcoming clinical trials are testing drugs that go after amyloid plaques. These are clumps of protein that form in the brain. Plaque deposits have been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Large nationwide studies of plaque-fighting drugs in people who have amyloid plaques in their brains but no symptoms of Alzheimer's include the following:

The A4 study. Dr. Sperling is a principal investigator of this study, which is testing the effectiveness of solanezumab, an antibody that helps remove amyloid from the brain.

The LEARN study. Researchers will use imaging and memory tests to compare people without amyloid plaques to the placebo group in the A4 study. The goal is to look for other factors that may contribute to cognitive decline or cognitive resilience.

The A5 study. Researchers will test the effects of an oral drug called a beta-secretase inhibitor, which is designed to prevent new amyloid plaques from developing in the brain.

Treating Alzheimer's disease:

Two major trials will test drugs designed to treat people who have mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease. The Amaranth Study will test the effectiveness of a drug called a beta-secretase inhibitor. Another study called NOBLE will test different doses of the drug T-817MA, which protects brain cells against the toxic effects of amyloid.

Read the full-length article: "There is something you can do about Alzheimer's disease—join a study"

Also in the July 2015 Harvard Women's Health Watch:

  •     When is an urgent-care clinic as good as the ER?
  •     Avoiding ankle injuries
  •     Why statins aren't for everyone

Harvard Women's Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free). Contact us for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.


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Kristen Rapoza
Harvard Health Publications
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