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New Hoag Clinical Trial Aims to Stop Alzheimer’s Disease

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but Hoag is joining the world’s foremost researchers in finding ways to slow the progression of the disease – and possibly stop it before symptoms appear.

Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute has been selected to participate in the AHEAD study, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial to test an investigational treatment that aims to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Funded by the NIH and Tokyo-based Eisai Inc., the AHEAD Study is the first Alzheimer’s disease research study to recruit people as young as 55 who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Participants are enrolled in one of two trials based on the level of the amyloid protein in their brain. Amyloid build up has been associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Both branches of the trial will individualize treatment dosing levels to a participant’s particular risk of Alzheimer’s related memory loss. A new Alzheimer’s drug recently approved by the FDA also works by reducing the amyloid protein in patient with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia. This approval underscores the importance of the AHEAD study investigating the effect of removing amyloid protein in healthy at-risk individuals.

“The tailored approach of this study, starting treatment years before memory loss has begun, has the potential to be a breakthrough step in our aim to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” said William R. Shankle, M.S., M.D., F.A.C.P., program director of Memory & Cognitive Disorders at Hoag and The Judy and Richard Voltmer Chair in Memory and Cognitive Disorders at Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, who is serving as the principal investigator of the study at Hoag. “It can potentially serve as a model to improve future clinical trials in Alzheimer’s research and other diseases.”

Hoag’s clinician researchers join colleagues in Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Europe, who are also participating in this trial. Hoag was selected for this 216-week study in part because of its renowned Orange County Vital Brain Program and its track record of clinical trial excellence.

“Through the Orange County Vital Brain Program, Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute has pioneered a comprehensive approach to maintain cognitive health as we age, and to combat the community’s fear of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders,” said Michael Brant-Zawadzki, M.D., F.A.C.R., Hoag’s senior physician executive and the Ron & Sandi Simon Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair of Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. “As a result, we are able to offer our community unique opportunities to participate in studies like the AHEAD Study. We are very excited to be a part of this pioneering effort to help identify ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

People may be eligible to enroll in the trial if they are between the ages of 55 and 80 and meet certain eligibility criteria.

For more information on the study and the study participation, please email