Groundbreaking study seeks diverse volunteers who have been historically underrepresented in research
By Dr. Paul Newhouse
Millions of people in America 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease, and the number is rising rapidly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 120,000 people in Nashville, Tennessee have the disease. Black and African Americans are especially at risk for the disease, with incidence rates two times higher than white adults. Black adults also have an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with further progression of the disease than their White peers.
To help address these disparities, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee are inviting healthy adults between 55-80 to join the groundbreaking AHEAD Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and Eisai. The AHEAD Study is the first clinical trial that aims to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease before it starts by enrolling participants as young as 55, who have no memory problems. Eligible participants may receive access to an investigational study medication aimed at delaying memory decline in people up to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Discovering a treatment that targets brain changes early means doctors may be able to one day prevent memory loss.
Clinical trials like the AHEAD Study need participants of every race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and geographical location to join the study so we can find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that works for everyone. Diverse representation, in particular, is critical to helping researchers learn more about why people of color are at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For Black adults, their involvement is especially important because despite their higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, they are underrepresented in clinical research, currently making up less than nine percent of Alzheimer’s clinical trial participants
Researchers say getting ahead of the disease will take all of us working together to find a potential treatment or a cure. If you live in the Nashville area and have a history of Alzheimer’s disease in your family, or if you are worried about your memory, consider joining the AHEAD Study. Contact researchers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615- 936-4997.
Dr. Paul Newhouse is Director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center