Why the Cure to Alzheimer’s Disease Starts with You
Prevention & Treatment Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and yet it’s the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, treat, or even slow its progression.
To address this growing need for clinical trial participants, in 2010 the Alzheimer’s Association launched Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch, a free, easy-to-use clinical studies matching service that connects individuals with Alzheimer's, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians with current studies.
With TrialMatch, we can fill trials faster, which may help us get answers more quickly and bring us closer to finding better treatments for Alzheimer’s. As of December 2015, more than 150,000 individuals have registered to search for Alzheimer’s clinical trials using TrialMatch.
To learn more about how you can participate in vital research
“The only way this will change is through research,” said Dr. Keith Fargo Alzheimer's Association, Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach. “Fortunately, scientists across the globe are working towards medical breakthroughs.”
“In order for researchers to move forward in their quest for a cure, they need volunteers: ordinary people like you and me,” said Cynthia Huling Hummel who was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in 2011 at the age of 57. Hummel has participated in several clinical trials over the last five years. “It makes me happy to know that I am making a difference in a quest for a cure. It is empowering. I feel like I am fighting the disease." In 2016, Hummel's diagnosis was changed to Alzheimer's disease.
Today, recruiting and retaining participants is the greatest obstacle, other than funding, to developing desperately needed new treatments for Alzheimer’s.
The hesitation to participate
There are many reasons people don’t participate in research studies. These reasons range from fear of side effects to a lack of awareness of the trials and inconveniences associated with participating in the studies. Many of these obstacles are magnified in minority communities, yet diversity in studies is critical in enabling their findings to be broadly applicable. Today, nearly all dementia-related clinical trial participants are white. This is particularly alarming because, according to the Alzheimer's Association facts and figures, African-Americans are two times as likely, and Hispanics nearly one and a half times as likely, to develop Alzheimer's disease than whites.
Another barrier is that people don’t realize they’re eligible and qualified. Participants for Alzheimer’s related studies don’t need to be seniors or even have the disease to participate. In fact, volunteers as young as 18 are sometimes needed because many studies focus on monitoring changes in cognitive abilities over time. Healthy individuals are needed for several types of research studies, especially those that are focused on preventing the disease.
Today, at least 70,000 volunteers, both with and without Alzheimer's disease, are urgently needed to participate in more than 150 research studies on Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
“Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s—and everyone can help to fight it,” said Fargo.