“By the time I’m that age, I hope there’ll be a cure.” Most of us have heard someone say that in a conversation about Alzheimer’s disease, or we’ve said it ourselves.
We’re counting on researchers to untangle the causes and find more effective treatments, but right now many of those professionals are facing a serious roadblock. There’s a shortage of people taking part in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s research and according to the New York Times, it’s so bad it’s slowing down progress on new treatments.
How to Find Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials
Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to find clinical trials and participate in Alzheimer’s research. Here are three comprehensive resources for finding trials by location, type of study and more.
1. Alzheimer’s Association: Trial Match
The Alzheimer’s Association keeps an up-to-date database of clinical trials that are open to new participants. Among the 250-plus studies are trials open to people who can make in-person visits and those who only need to take part online. Some, but not all, of the trials involve medications under study.
While some trials are seeking participants who have dementia, others need volunteers who are healthy or taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s.
To find trials you or a family member can participate in, call: 800-272-3900 or go to the Trial Match website.
The Alzheimer’s Association will keep your information confidential and you’ll be asked a few questions to help Trial Match find suitable trials for you. You’ll get a list of options to choose from, but the decision to participate in any of the suggested trials is up to you. If you decide to volunteer for one of the trials on your customized list, you can use the contact information provided by the Alzheimer’s Association to get in touch and get started.
To see what options I’d find for myself, I took a few minutes to sign up. I was asked for my first name (the last name is optional), email address and zip code, a few health/family history questions and veteran status. My results included five online study options and a handful of local-only trials. Trial Match allows you to bookmark the trials you’re interested in and then display only your bookmarked options if you prefer.
2. Global Alzheimer’s Platform (GAP) Foundation
Dozens of institutions across North America participate in the GAP Foundation, whose goal is to speed up the development of Alzheimer’s treatments. Medical centers and schools who are part of the GAP Foundation’s “Memory Strings” program include Baylor College of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic, Howard University, Mayo Clinic Rochester, University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders and Vanderbilt University.
The GAP Foundation’s Memory Strings Community is actively seeking more than 500,000 research volunteers to take part in studies and trials. To participate, you have to join Memory Strings, which is free and requires your birth year, name, email address and zip code.
If you have trouble, you can email Memory Strings at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. National Institute on Aging: Clinical Trials Search
The NIA’s searchable database includes clinical trials in North America for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. You can search by what the trials are studying (such as cognitive training, diet, drugs, genetics and hormones), type of volunteer (including caregivers and health volunteers), by keyword and by location. You don’t have to share any personal information to see your search results.
If you’d rather browse the entire list of clinical trials and studies, just click the “see all” link. As of this writing, the NIA’s list includes 179 options, including several drug trials for early-stage dementia, non-drug therapies like light exposure and movement to treat dementia symptoms, and studies on the impact of other conditions like HIV and traumatic brain injury on the progress of dementia.
I got 14 local results when I searched for all trials near Austin, Texas. Most were safety and efficacy trials for medications that researchers think might help people with early-stage dementia or mild cognitive impairment. A search for trials in the NIA’s “healthy volunteers” category returned 67 trials, mostly focused on cognitive training, diet, drugs and genetic risk factors. You can click on the links for contact information and details on each trial.
When you volunteer to take part in a trial, you’re not only helping scientists today, you’re helping the dementia patients of the future. Learn more about current treatments for Alzheimer’s and how researchers are trying to personalize Alzheimer’s treatment plans.
Have you, a parent or senior loved one participated in any Alzheimer’s clinical trials? What was your experience like? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.