Georgetown Starts Study to Halt Alzheimer’s Disease in Those at High-Risk

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WASHINGTON (June 9, 2014) – Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have launched a clinical study aimed at preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease in people who don’t have symptoms but already have the tell-tale signs in their brains.

The study, part of a national effort at dozens of medical centers, is for older individuals who have amyloid plaque build up in their brains as seen on a brain PET scan. The plaque, a potential sign of pending cognitive or memory decline, appears years before an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Investigators hope treating individuals at this earliest stage of the disease will be successful.

 “Researchers have studied several new treatments in patients with Alzheimer’s but so far nothing has stopped or slowed progression. One reason could be that treatment was started too late,” explains neurology professor R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown. “With this study, we can look at how effective treatment would be if we start years before onset of symptoms and diagnosis.”

Turners adds, “A prevention trial such as this is a first for the field of Alzheimer’s disease research.”

Researchers will study whether solanezumab can slow or stop memory and cognitive decline with aging – compared to those receiving a placebo. Study participants will be randomly assigned to receive either the solanezumab or placebo . Neither patients nor health care providers will know which is being administered until the end of the study.

Solanezumab already has been studied in later stages of Alzheimer’s and was determined to be safe but not effective at slowing disease progression. Still, evidence from these studies suggests it might halt the disease if started sooner.

Participants in the study must be generally healthy with normal memory and cognitive abilities and age 65 to 85. An amyloid PET scan will be performed to determine if a person has plaques in their brain. If so, and if participants meet additional criteria, they will be invited to enroll in the study for a period of three years and three months.

The study is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Co. in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study. Turner reports no personal financial interests related to the study.

To learn more about this study and other Alzheimer’s research underway at Georgetown, contact Carolyn Ward at the Georgetown Memory Disorders Program by calling (202) 784-6671 or by emailing her at Information is also available at and Georgetown study participants must speak English.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.