Watch CBS News

University of Pittsburgh asks for volunteers for Alzheimer's disease study

Pitt looking for participants in Alzheimer's disease drug study
Pitt looking for participants in Alzheimer's disease drug study 02:25

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There's currently no way to stop Alzheimer's disease, but people across the world and in the Pittsburgh area collaborating on a study around one drug in hopes of finding a way to prevent the disease.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are looking for participants to join a clinical trial that could bring families some hope.

Pitt is one of more than 70 places in the U.S. and Canada working on the AHEAD Study. They're testing the drug lecanemab to determine if it can prevent the disease. The medication is already FDA-approved to treat early memory loss.

"It's actually modifying the disease process and slowing the disease process. To be able to do that for individuals who aren't experiencing any symptoms, to call it a breakthrough would be an understatement. It would have major implications," said Dr. Jennifer Lingler,  director of outreach, recruitment and engagement at the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. 

Dr. Lingler said candidates have to be symptom-free but may be at risk of developing the disease. They'd get a scan to see if they have amyloid plaque in their brain.

"The changes that are being evaluated in this case are really protein abnormalities in the brain. So specifically, there's a protein called beta-amyloid that we're all making and clearing in our systems all of the time throughout adulthood, but in Alzheimer's disease that clearance process is disrupted and clumps form in the brain. So, accumulation or build-up," she said.

Participants must be 55 to 80 years old, have normal thinking and memory abilities and have no major health conditions. Participants receive the drug or a placebo.

It's a four-year study, but the results could be game-changing for future generations.

"Right now, we don't routinely screen older adults for Alzheimer's disease or people in midlife for Alzheimer's disease. So, if there were a therapeutic intervention available, it would really change the landscape of how we think about this condition," Dr. Lingler said.

Here's the full list on study requirements:

  • 55 to 80 years of age
  • Normal thinking and memory abilities
  • Willing to learn your amyloid results (intermediate, elevated, or not elevated) which may relate to your risk of developing AD dementia
  • Have a trusted family member or friend (a "study partner") who can accompany you to a few key study visits and be available by phone to answer questions about your memory and thinking.
  • Willing and able to receive regular intravenous (IV) infusions (once or twice a month) of the investigational study drug (BAN2401) or a placebo for up to 4 years

If you have questions about the study, you can reach out to Pitt's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

You can learn more about the study on the AHEAD Study website. The AHEAD Study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and other organizations, including Eisai, which is the company that makes the treatment used in the study.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.