Ask the Expert: Why the age limits? | Alzheimer's Prevention Registry

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July 20, 2017

Ask the Expert: Why the age limits?

By Alzheimer's Prevention Bulletin

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This month’s expert is Lon S. Schneider, MD, MS, Director, Clinical Core at the University of Southern California, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Dear Dr. Schneider,

Why don’t Alzheimer’s disease prevention trials enroll people from a broader age range? Most seem to want people in their 60s through their mid-80s.

Sincerely,
Lorie


Dear Lorie,

As you’ve discovered, Alzheimer’s prevention trials need participants from a relatively narrow age range. Researchers have a “sweet spot” with respect to age for prevention trial participation. At this time, most need to enroll people close to the age of Alzheimer’s onset, and who have a risk factor for the disease, such as a particular gene or having amyloid in their brains. This gives a prevention trial three-to-five-years to determine whether the treatment can stop the onset of memory and thinking problems associated with the disease.

But, changes are on the horizon. It won’t be too many years before younger people are participating in Alzheimer’s prevention trials. What’s behind the change? Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a major driver. PET scans may allow researchers to gather biomarker information from participants to determine if the treatment studied slows or stops the disease from progressing in their brains, rather than having to wait to see if the treatment stops the clinical symptoms from appearing, since the latter scenario requires much more time and older participants.

Lorie, you can learn about the Alzheimer’s prevention studies available by visiting Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. Even if you aren’t currently eligible for a study, you can share what you find with people you know who may be eligible and interested.