Butler Enrolls First Participant in National Landmark Alzheimer's Study

Release Date: 06/09/2014


Butler Hospital, affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, is the first of 60 clinical trial sites in the U.S. to begin administering an investigational drug to test a new way to prevent the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) in adults who may be at higher risk for developing the disease, but who have no symptoms. The study seeks to enroll 1,000 adults between the ages of 65 to 85 at trial sites across the United States, as well as Canada and Australia. Butler Hospital is actively seeking volunteers in this age range who have normal memory function.

Called the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's study, or the A4 study, participants will test whether a new investigational antibody treatment can slow memory loss associated with AD. The development of amyloid plaques in the brain has been linked to AD.

More than 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and every 70 seconds, another person develops the illness. In Rhode Island, 22,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer's. Finding a cure is considered a pressing need by area aging experts, as well as local AD patients, their caretakers and loved ones. While there is no cure for AD, the goal of the A4 study is to test a targeted investigational treatment to determine whether it can prevent or delay Alzheimer's-related memory loss.

"This study is relevant to many people in our community and is an entirely new approach to Alzheimer's disease research," said Dr. Stephen Salloway, principal investigator at Butler Hospital. "Our team is committed to the fight against Alzheimer's, but we cannot succeed without the public stepping forward as volunteers. We need people from all walks of life to sign up now."

Butler Hospital is looking for study participants ages 65 to 85 who live in or near Rhode Island and southeastern New England who may be at risk for memory loss due to Alzheimer's disease, but have no outward signs of the disease. Physicians and researchers will use an imaging test called a PET scan to determine whether a potential participant has evidence of an elevated level of amyloid plaque in the brain. The study will last for approximately three years, and participants will be required to visit the clinical research site once a month.

"The A4 study is exploring whether we can treat Alzheimer's disease the same way we now address high cholesterol and heart disease—halting the disease before it even starts," said Reisa Sperling, MD, principal investigator of the A4 study.

"The A4 study offers new hope that we can give people a way to fight back, and give them something they can actively do to protect their own memories. We hope to eventually spare other generations from ever facing this devastating disease."

Research shows that many groups and individuals, including women, African-Americans, and Hispanic and Latino Americans are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, but there is no clear consensus why. One of the goals of the A4 study is to attract participants from diverse backgrounds, in order to help determine why certain communities are more apt to get Alzheimer's, and identify how they can reduce the prevalence of AD.

The A4 study is funded by the National Institute on Aging/NIH, Eli Lilly and Company, and several philanthropic organizations. The A4 study is coordinated by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, located at the University of California, San Diego.

Volunteer for the A4 study at Butler Hospital or contact the Butler Hospital study coordinator, Diane Monast, at (401) 455-6403 for more information.

About the A4 Study

The A4 study (also known as "Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's study") is a ground-breaking prevention trial for older individuals who may be at risk for memory loss due to Alzheimer's disease (AD), but have no outward signs of the disease. The study is designed to test whether a new medication, called an amyloid antibody, may reduce the impact of 'amyloid" or plaques in the brain that may play a key role in the eventual development of Alzheimer's disease-related memory loss. The approximately three year study is currently enrolling 1,000 adults between the ages of 65-85 at 60 trial sites across North America and Australia. If you're interested in participating or learning more about the A4 study, please go to http://a4study.org or call 844-A4-STUDY.

About Butler Hospital

Butler Hospital, a member of Care New England, is the only private, nonprofit psychiatric and substance abuse hospital serving adults, seniors and adolescents in Rhode Island and southeastern New England. Founded in 1844, it was the first hospital in Rhode Island and has earned a reputation as the leading provider of innovative psychiatric treatments in the region. The Major Affiliated Teaching Hospital for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Butler is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in conducting cutting-edge research.