Just One! A HOPE for the Future

A common goal for anyone reading this article is the eventual eradication of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The numbers are staggering! There are over 5 million Americans with AD dementia and this number is expected to be over 16 million by 2050. One in eight persons age 65 and older, and 1 in 3 persons age 85 or more, currently has AD dementia. In short, we are in the midst of an AD crisis that is growing in size and scope. The good news is that exciting scientific advances in the past few years gives us tremendous hope that new treatments to slow down and even prevent the symptoms of AD will be available in the not-too-distant future. However, the single most important thing that anyone can do to make this happen and to have an impact on the AD crisis is to volunteer to participate in research.

The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) aims to reduce the human and economic costs of AD through the advancement of knowledge. The BU ADC was established in 1996 as one of 29 centers in the US funded by the National Institutes of Health to advance research on AD and related conditions. At the BU ADC, there is likely a research study for anyone interested in volunteering. There are studies for individuals who already have symptoms and have been diagnosed with AD dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and there are studies for people who do not have any symptoms. Some studies are clinical trials involving taking an investigational new medicine or placebo to slow down the disease progression (e.g., the DAYBREAK Study) or even prevent the symptoms (e.g., the A4 Study). Some studies do not involve medications, but include new methods of diagnosing and detecting AD, such as PET scans and MRI scans (e.g., the ADNI study).

Participation in research is not merely a means of moving the science forward; it can also provide important positive benefits to the participant, including a decreased sense of solitude by interacting with a research team who truly understands the disease and its toll on the patient, the caregiver, and family members. And, research participation fulfills that most important need for everyone touched by the disease: a sense of hope. It is shocking how difficult it is for researchers around the country to recruit an adequate number of people willing to participate in AD-related research. Yes, even in Boston! If this little article results in just one person to become enrolled in AD-related research, it would make a tremendous difference. Please help by participating and spreading the word!

If you are interested in learning more about participating in one of these studies, call (617) 414-1077 or email joinadc@bu.edu. To learn more about the BU ADC and the research studies currently available, go to the Center’s website: www.bu.edu/alzresearch.

This article was written by Dr. Robert Stern.
Dr. Robert Stern is Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine, where he is also Director of the Clinical Core of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center (one of only 30 centers funded by the National Institutes of Health, NIH).