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OHSU part of clinical trial aiming to prevent Alzheimer’s before symptoms start

Participant says she’s committed to preventing Alzheimer’s in her daughters’ generation
Barbara Klausman of Vancouver, right, greets Aimee Pierce, M.D., as she arrives Wednesday for her regular infusion as part of a clinical trial designed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms emerge. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)
Barbara Klausman of Vancouver, right, greets Aimee Pierce, M.D., as she arrives Wednesday for her regular infusion as part of a clinical trial designed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms emerge. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)

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Oregon Health & Science University is among several centers across the country involved in a clinical trial testing a promising new antibody to prevent Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms develop.

The AHEAD study is the first-ever clinical trial to test the effect of the antibody lecanemab in people who have no cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s but have discovered through brain imaging the presence of a type of protein called amyloid that’s often associated with the disease. The study is testing people as young as 55 who are at risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s as they get older.

Aimee Pierce, M.D. (OHSU)
Aimee Pierce, M.D. (OHSU)

“If we can detect it and treat it early, we believe we’ll have a better chance of fighting it,” said Aimee Pierce, M.D., an associate professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine who is leading the OHSU clinical trial testing lecanemab in the Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Barbara Klausman, 76, of Vancouver, Washington, is among the participants who have committed to coming in for regular infusions on a monthly or biweekly basis for four years.

“I’m really interested in someday having somebody find a cure for Alzheimer’s,” she said. “It’s an awful disease.”

Barbara Klausman
Barbara Klausman (OHSU)

Klausman’s mother had Alzheimer’s, as did her aunt. She has two daughters in their 50s, and she hopes that by participating in this clinical trial, she helps to advance scientific discovery so that Alzheimer’s can be prevented in the next generation.

“I don’t want them to ever worry about having Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Klausman recently shared her experience in stories that aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting and KGW-TV in Portland.

For more information, or to consider enrolling in the clinical trial, see:

The AHEAD study: 
https://www.aheadstudy.org/

Other clinical trials in OHSU’s Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center: 
https://www.ohsu.edu/brain-institute/patients-alzheimers-disease-research

Other clinical trials at Oregon Health & Science University: 
https://www.ohsu.edu/health
/clinical-trials

The randomized clinical trial is seeking to recruit more than 1,000 people across North America in a study considered the gold standard of research: double-blinded and placebo-controlled.

That means throughout the trial participants get an intravenous infusion that may either be lecanemab or an inert saline solution. Neither Klausman nor Pierce and her study team will know whether individual participants are receiving lecanemab or the placebo until after the study concludes.

In addition to the current clinical trial, Pierce also led an earlier clinical trial testing lecanemab among participants in the early stage of the disease. In January of this year, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for the lecanemab, known by the trade name Leqembi, in treating patients with mild cognitive impairment or the mild dementia stage of Alzheimer’s, as long as they had confirmed presence of amyloid in the brain.

This research is supported by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging under award numbers R01AG054029 and R01AG061848. The AHEAD Study (Clinical Trial number NCT04468659) received funding from NIH and from nongovernmental sources. The content is solely the responsibility of the researchers and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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