A Call for Volunteers
The discouraging truth is that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s in sight. Drugs that have shown some promise, and theories about the influence of exercise, sleep, and diet on disease progression await further research. While there are many reasons why progress has been slow, one factor is the difficulty in recruiting research subjects.
Current Clinical Trials
The Alzheimer’s Disease and Referral Center, which is part if the National Institute of Health (NIH), has a website with information on all on-going clinical studies being conducted in the 32 NIH funded research centers across the country. (There are two centers right here in Boston!) Some studies are limited to people with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. However, many other studies seek healthy adult volunteers as well.
Factors to Consider Before Enrolling
There are several benefits to participating in a clinical trial. You will receive regular medical monitoring and can keep up to date with research developments. You may gain access to a new, effective drug not yet available to the public. You may participate in a lifestyle modification that turns out to be protective against Alzheimer’s, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping researchers learn more about Alzheimer’s.
There are downsides that should be evaluated as well. What kind of side effects might you experience while taking an experimental drug? How disruptive will the clinical trial be to your daily life? If you do not currently have symptoms of Alzheimer’s, do you want to know if you have risk factors for the disease? Will personal information about you remain confidential? These questions can, and should, be explored before you commit to any clinical trial.
Research cannot be conducted without financial support. But money is not enough. Without large-scale clinical trials, promising early-stage drugs and new theories about disease mechanisms cannot be fully developed. If you are wondering what you can do to support finding cure, wonder no more. Take a look at the NIH website and see if there is a trial that fits your sense of how you can contribute.