Keith Fargo, Ph.D.
Director, Scientific Programs and Outreach, Alzheimer’s Association
Millions of Americans are battling Alzheimer’s, but there are ways we can all help. Here’s how you can join the fight to end the disease.
As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association’s medical and scientific relations team, I travel across the country talking to people about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. With more than 5 million people living with the disease in the United States and no effective treatments available to slow its progress, I get the same question everywhere I go: What can I do to help? My response: Enroll in a clinical trial.
Providing a path forward
Simply put, without research studies and the help of human volunteers, there will be no improved treatments, no prevention, and no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials provide the essential pathway from which the first disease-modifying drug — and the first survivor of Alzheimer’s — will emerge.
Currently, there are more than 400 active clinical trials seeking volunteers for studies aimed at advancing treatments and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s. Recruiting, enrolling, and retaining trial participants, however, remains a significant challenge. In fact, securing an adequate number of diverse trial volunteers represents the greatest obstacle, other than funding, to advancing needed research and new discoveries.
How trials help
Participating in a research study allows people living with the disease several benefits, including:
- Playing a more active role in their treatment
- Gaining access to potential treatments before they are widely available
- Receiving expert medical care at leading healthcare facilities, often free of cost
- Contributing to research that could change the course of the disease and benefit future generations
Wanted: healthy volunteers
Contrary to popular belief, clinical trials are not only open to people living with Alzheimer’s. Caregivers and healthy volunteers are also needed.
To help potential participants connect with active trials, the Alzheimer’s Association created TrialMatch — a free, easy-to-use clinical studies matching service that generates customized lists of studies based on user-provided information. You can easily see what studies may be a fit for you or a family member.
While some Alzheimer’s studies involve drugs and physical tests, others simply involve observation and questionnaires. Studies range from treatment trials and diagnostic studies to prevention trials and quality-of-life studies. Every clinical trial contributes valuable knowledge, whether or not the treatment works as hoped for.
Join the fight
This is an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research, and the Alzheimer’s Association is more optimistic than ever about the future for treatment and early detection in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. There is a role for all to play in the fight to end the disease, and participation in clinical trials offers a major opportunity for anyone looking to help to engage in the fight.