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Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Studies

Dr. van Dyck and the ADRU are very active in national and international research in the treatment of AD. Since its inception in 1991 the Yale ADRU has been involved in approximately 60 multicenter clinical trials for AD, and the prodromal condition of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Since 1996 we have been a member site of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) funded by the National Institute of Aging (NIA). The ADCS is the principal consortium for AD therapeutic studies funded by NIH. Its mission is to carry out studies that would not otherwise be conducted by industry (for example, of non-proprietary agents like vitamin E and estrogen), however, it increasingly collaborates with pharmaceutical and small biotech companies in studies of novel proprietary agents. A good example of the work of the ADCS is contained in our paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (Petersen et al, 2005) entitled: Vitamin E and Donepezil for the Treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment.

Collaborations with Industry

Much of the “cutting edge” basic research in AD treatment is based within the pharmaceutical industry, and the ADRU also works extensively with industry to test highly novel treatments. The ADRU was the nation’s top enrolling site in assessing memantine for late-stage AD, the only treatment currently approved for late-stage illness. Currently, the ADRU is helping to assess several anti-amyloid mechanisms that have the potential to actually arrest and reverse the course of the disease for the very first time: these include vaccines and antibodies, as well as inhibitors of amyloid aggregation and inhibitors of the amyloidogenic enzymes γ-secretase or ß-secretase (See Clinical Trials). The Yale PET Center has recently begun to perform amyloid imaging with [11C]PIB PET, and new studies will assess whether these novel treatment strategies truly reduce amyloid burden as hypothesized.