Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. to Finance Study of Alzheimer's Drug

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. to Finance Study of Alzheimer's Drug

Article excerpt

The federal government announced a $33.2 million grant for a project that will test a drug on people considered at greatest risk for developing Alzheimer's.

In a significant effort to discover a treatment to prevent Alzheimer's disease, the federal government announced a $33.2 million grant Wednesday for a project that will test a drug on people considered at greatest risk for developing the most common form of the disease.

The grant, part of the government's national Alzheimer's plan, will help finance a large clinical trial to test a treatment on people 60 to 75 who do not have any symptoms of the disease but do have two copies of a gene known to greatly increase the risk of getting it.

It is the largest federal grant to date to test a drug specifically designed to prevent Alzheimer's in people without symptoms, said Laurie Ryan, program director for Alzheimer's disease clinical trials at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

In announcing the grant and other smaller awards on Wednesday, Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, said the government was "investing a great deal of hope" in prevention research, aiming to "intervene early in the course of Alzheimer's disease, well before the onset of symptoms."

"We know that Alzheimer's-related brain changes take place years, even decades, before symptoms appear," Dr. Hodes said in a statement. "That really may be the optimal window for drugs that delay progression or prevent the disease altogether."

The grant for the drug-testing project went to Dr. Eric M. Reiman and Dr. Pierre N. Tariot of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix. A total of $45 million in grants for Alzheimer's research was awarded. The Banner trial, called the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative, will focus on the late-onset form of Alzheimer's, which is by far the most common form of the disease, affecting the vast majority of the five million Americans estimated to have it. …

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