CLEVELAND — Right now, millions of people are impacted by brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis and even strokes. To be specific, we’re told one in every six people has a neurological disease around the globe.
But doctors still know very little about how these diseases develop or what treatments to use before it's too late.
“We are like almost always running after these diseases, and we are seeing the patient condition deteriorating with time and the family is agonizing around the patients seeing their loved one losing their ability to think, to talk, to walk, and we cannot do much,” said Dr. Imad Najm with the Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute.
Najm says he and other researchers hope to answer three questions; why do some people develop brain diseases? Are they carried on in family genetics? Can they be prevented? If so, how?
“No study, to our knowledge, with the depth in which we are characterizing and examining the patient and scanning them has ever been done to address these questions.”
That is until now.
The clinic is launching a landmark study on the brain following up to 200,000 healthy participants of different ages over 20 years. Though, the first phase will only include 10,000 people over five years. Participants will undergo yearly assessments including neurological examination, bloodwork, eye retina scans, brain MRIs, EEG and sleep studies and other cognitive function tests.
“Doing more studies on these individuals would help us not look only at the blood [but] looking at what happened in the brain, what happened in the eyes, what happened in the heart in the period that precedes the occurrence of another logical disorder,” Najm explained. “The funding, I think, for at least the next year or so has been achieved through our grateful donors.”
Their first patient already enrolled and the clinic wants the public's help to enroll more. Volunteers will include adults 50 years and older with no known neurological disorder or neurologically healthy adults age 20 and older who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Volunteers do not have to be current Cleveland Clinic patients.
“Hopefully, all together we'll come up with some better ways to prevent these devastating disorders,” said Najm.
For more information about the Cleveland Clinic Brain Study, click here.