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Penn study shows signs of Alzheimer's disease prevention

Penn study shows signs of Alzheimer's disease prevention
Penn study shows signs of Alzheimer's disease prevention 02:29

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Preventing or slowing Alzheimer's disease, that's what researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are testing with an experimental new drug.

Researchers think the drug might be able to stop Alzheimer's before symptoms show up. They're looking for volunteers, specifically people with a family history. 

Carol Turner says it was devastating to watch her parents struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

"I never want to be have to depend on people like that or have my whole being be taken away from me," Turner said.

Turner, who's at high risk is part of a clinical trial testing a treatment that might prevent Alzheimer's.

"Whatever preventative measure, whatever measures I can take myself that's what I do," Turner said.

The drug Lecanemab, has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. The ahead study is testing whether the drug can work before people develop symptoms. 

"The idea of the ahead study is to get ahead of the disease," Dr. Roy Hamilton said. 

 Dr. Roy Hamilton says Penn Medicine is among dozens of sites across the country recruiting volunteers. They get PET scans checking for amyloid plaque in the brain that can show up 20 years before symptoms.

"We think that we have agents that may show the promise of altering the trajectory of this disorder," Dr. Hamilton said. 

These scans show after 18 months of Lecanemab reduced brain plaque as you can see on the right. 

CBS Philadelphia told Dr. Hamilton that this drug could very well be a game changer if it's able to prevent the development of Alzheimer's. Dr. Hamilton agreed. 

"That's absolutely right," Dr. Hamilton said. 

 Dr. Hamilton is hoping to recruit more African Americans, who have higher rates of Alzheimer's, but low participation in clinical trials.

"This is something we're really interested in reversing," Dr. Hamilton said.

"We don't tend to do a lot of studies. As a matter of fact, this is my very first one," Turner said.

She is helping to recruit more Black participants and spreading the word about the ahead trial at her church. 

"We have quite a number of people signing up," Turner said.

The study is blinded so people don't know if they're getting the drug or a placebo. 

Turner says after two years of infusions, she's feeling better. Whether its from the drug or just taking better care of herself, she's not sure. 

Penn is looking for healthy people over the age of 55 who have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's. To learn more information about this study, check out

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