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National research teams seek Alzheimer's clinical trial participants for new study

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 21:43:02-05

CLEVELAND — Recently, a drug shown to modestly slow the early stages of Alzheimer's was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The move allows for earlier approval of medication while the drug continues to be studied in larger and longer trials.

Some 6 million people in the U.S. and many more worldwide have Alzheimer’s, which gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, reasoning, communication and daily tasks.

According to a Bloomberg analysis last year, only about 2% of overall Alzheimer's clinical trial participants were Black. Older Black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to have Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

Now, there's a push to get more Black patients to sign up for those trials. More than 70 research teams across the country are looking for 1,400 individuals between 55 and 80 years old with preclinical or early preclinical Alzheimer's.

The program, called the Ahead Study, will last about four years. Results are expected around the year 2028.

CLICK HERE for more information on how to participate in the Ahead Study.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic seeks diverse participants in clinical trials for Alzheimer's treatment

FDA approves new drug
Leqembi, known chemically as lecanemab, is the first drug that’s been convincingly shown to slow the decline in memory and thinking that defines Alzheimer’s by targeting the disease's underlying biology.

Alzheimer Drug
This Dec. 21, 2022 image provided by Eisai in January 2023, shows vials and packaging for their medication Leqembi. On Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, U.S. health officials approved Leqembi, a new Alzheimer’s drug that modestly slows the brain-robbing disease. The Food and Drug Administration granted the approval Friday for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's. (Eisai via AP)

Leqembi is from Japan's Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen, is a rare success in a field accustomed to failed experimental treatments for the incurable condition. The delay in cognitive decline brought about by the drug likely amounts to just several months, but some experts say it could still meaningfully improve people's lives.

Approval came via FDA's accelerated pathway, which allows drugs to launch based on early results, before they're confirmed to benefit patients. The agency's use of that shortcut has come under increasing scrutiny from government watchdogs and congressional investigators.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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