A Kelowna clinical research team has been selected to conduct experimental trials on a new medication that would modify the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Medical Arts Health Research Group will carry out a phase 3 study in the research process, which if successful would lead next to Health Canada and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, with further followup research efforts carried out for the medication after public certification on a wider basis.
“It’s exciting for us to get this opportunity. As doctors, nurses and caregivers, finding a cure for something like this is why we are all doing this,” said Donna Benson, CEO and founder of Medical Arts Health Research Group.
Benson said this medication is intended to slow the deterioration symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, somewhat different from drugs already available which tend to target particular symptoms of the disease.
“This is a new class of drug medication,” she said.
“It is being tested around the world, at places like the Mayo Clinic and other prestigious medical centres, so we are very humbled to be part of that research effort.”
It also comes at a time when other Alzheimer’s research efforts have reached a standstill.
TIME magazine reported this summer that a number of drug companies have opted to abandon their Alzheimer’s research efforts.
Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca PLC terminated their development of an experimental treatment when studies failed to show improvement in people with early signs of cognitive impairment. And Pfizer closed its neurodegenerative disease research while Merck stopped development of its Alzheimer’s drug candidate after disappointing tests results.
Those moves are countered, however, by encouraging news related to an anti-amyloid drug being tested by Eisai, a Japanese company, and Biogen, based in Massachusetts. They have developed a compound, BAN2401, which is an antibody designed to stick to amyloid, the protein that builds up in the brain and can lead to sticky plaques that compromise nerve cells.
If declines of amyloid in the brain can be achieved in statistically significant clinical testing, that might reflect more hope in slowing the cognitive decline in people.
Benson said the interest in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is widely prevalent because of the aging demographic change of our population, particularly in the Okanagan, and how common it is today for people to have their lives touched by the disease.
Benson said her research firm, which she started in 2002 in Kelowna with offices now in Penticton, West Vancouver, Kamloops and North Vancouver, is reaching out for participants in the research study, people who have concerns about their memory retention or have been diagnosed with memory loss.
Her research group conducts clinical and psycho-social studies for residents in the Kootenays, Okanagan, Kamloops and Lower Mainland for a variety of conditions such as asthma, back pain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure schizophrenia, high cholesterol and tinnitus.
“Patients will be reimbursed for any travel or accommodation expenses. In addition, patients who qualify for the study will receive an MRI and PET scan at no cost, along with all the study related medications,” Benson said.
“However, our patients tell us the best part is the comprehensive study-related medical care and monitoring they receive during the course of a study.”
For more information about participation eligibility, call the Medical Arts Health Research Group at 1-888-490-4320 or visit www.HealthResearch.ca.