A District-based Alzheimer's study is seeking volunteers.
A District-based Alzheimer's study is seeking volunteers. Credit: Courtesy photo

Officials at the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative said they have taken great strides in the fight to find a treatment to delay the symptoms of or prevent Alzheimer’s.

And the organization is working with researchers at Georgetown University in Washington to recruit participants for a research study in cities across the country, including locally.

“To date, we have screened two and enrolled zero participants at Georgetown University Medical Center. Our goal is to enroll at least 10 participants at our site,” said Dr. R. Scott Turner, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Northwest.

“For the nationwide study, we estimate that we will need to screen approximately 100,000 people to obtain the approximately 1,300 cognitively healthy older adults, ages 60 to 75, who carry two copies of the e4 type of the APOE gene and are eligible for the Generation Study,” Turner said.

The APOE gene makes a protein called apolipoprotein E – APOE. There are three different types of the APOE gene called alleles — e2, e3 and e4 — and everyone has two copies of the gene so the combination determines an individual’s APOE genotype.

The Generation Study seeks to recruit participants between the ages of 60-75 who have no memory or thinking problems but are likely to develop the more common form of late-onset Alzheimer’s based on genetic risk.

This study will be the first to incorporate genetic testing and counseling into the screening process.

The API Generation Study serves as a complement to the research in Colombia that was highlighted on “60 Minutes” earlier this month.

The Colombia study is being conducted among a large Colombian family that has a rare genetic mutation which makes them certain to develop Alzheimer’s by their mid-40s.

“The study consists of two parts — Part 1 includes assessments of memory, thinking, and mood, along with meeting with a health care professional to learn your APOE gene test results,” Turner said. “All participants who learn their APOE results will be followed for one year. Individuals who learn that they have two copies of the e4 type of APOE may be eligible for Part 2 of the study, examining whether anti-amyloid medications – compared to placebo — prevent the onset of memory and thinking problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Participants in the second part of the trial will be followed for five to eight years and asked to visit the study site every few months.

The Generation Study is largely being recruited through the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry’s GeneMatch program, which connects Alzheimer’s prevention studies with eligible volunteers, based in part on their genetic status.

“The API Generation Study is the first to incorporate genetic testing and counseling into the study screening process,” Turner said. “Through GeneMatch, interested individuals will submit a genetic sample. Once their genetic sample is analyzed they may be notified that they may be eligible to participate in the Generation Study. Upon notification, they will be informed of next steps.”

“People will meet with a health care provider, to learn their results,” he said.

Testers are hopeful that by targeting changes in the brain before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear, they can make significant progress towards staving off or preventing the disease, Turner said.
“Prevention will likely be easier than cure,” he said.

Those interested in participating in GeneMatch and the Generation Study can visit www.endALZnow.org/GeneMatch or www.generationstudy.com. Locally, interested individuals can also contact the George Washington University Medical Center Memory Disorders Program at 202-784-6671.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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