Thursday, January 17, 2013

The A4 Trial

The NIH announced earlier this week that it has funded four studies overseen by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS).  All four studies are worth reading up on but one jumped out a bit more to me.

One study will see if drugs will help prevent Alzheimer's in 1,000 elder patients who have already been found to already have amyloid plaques and are showing subtle cognitive changes.  The study's hypothesis is that the drugs will clear the plaques and reduce the cognitive decline by 25-30%.  This study is hoping to administer the drugs earlier in the disease progression.  The thought is that earlier intervention will produce greater positive results in preventing cognitive decline for the patients.

My question is how these 1,000 patients were identified for the study.  Were they being evaluated for their subtle cognitive changes before the scans were done which lead to the finding of abnormal amounts of amyloid plaques?  Or where the plaques found because the patient's brains were scanned for other reasons?  It may seem like a small question, but it is significant.  If the patients were already symptomatic, then the study's administration of the plaque clearing drugs may be too late.


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