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Clinical trials for Alzheimers what are they all about

Considering a Clinical Trial? Here’s What You Need to Know

The medical world relies upon clinical trials to test new potential breakthroughs in medications and therapies by assessing their efficacy in humans. We all hear about them, but understanding how they work and who they benefit is another matter altogether. Most have more questions than answers.

What are the different kinds of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s? Should you or a loved one consider participating in one?

At any given moment, thousands of clinical trials are being conducted worldwide.

The nature of clinical trials varies greatly depending upon the drug or other treatment, the medical condition being tracked, and the demographics of the population being evaluated.

Today, according to ClinicalTrials.gov, there are hundreds of thousands of clinical trials being conducted all over the world. Over 180 U.S. trials involve new drugs and therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease are being conducted.

What are these trials and what do they accomplish?

The Alzheimer’s Association breaks down clinical trials associated with treatments for Alzheimer’s disease as follows:

  • Treatment trials. These are the trials we hear about most often in the news. They are set up to test new drugs as well as non-drug treatments and procedures. The goal of treatment trials is to either 1) reduce the symptoms of the disease or 2) stop or slow the progression.
  • Diagnostic studies. These are designed to identify new, more effective tests and/or procedures for diagnosing Alzheimer’s
  • Prevention trials. The goal of these trials is to identify various ways for an individual to help prevent developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Quality of life studies. These studies seek ways to optimize the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of individuals who have Alzheimer’s and how they can improve their quality of life on a day-to-day basis.

How does the process work?

While the process will vary somewhat depending on the type of trial, the structure basically comes together as follows:

  • The nature and goals of the study will be explained to you in detail, along with what procedures you will experience and how much time you’ll be required to spend.
  • You will be informed as to where the trial is taking place, often in hospitals or other healthcare environment.
  • Your consent must be given prior to joining the trial.
  • As the study progresses you will meet regularly with nurses, doctors, or other healthcare professionals to monitor your health and progress.
  • After the trial is completed, the results will be analyzed and published. There may be additional phases to the trial in which you may be invited to participate.

It is important to note that an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will open up more clinical trial opportunities. And it is just one of the reasons why early testing is so important. There are many other benefits that can improve overall health, medication efficacy, and other therapies to maintain cognitive health for as long as possible.

Should you or a loved one participate in a clinical trial?

Only you can answer that question. But it will be easier to do so after you have armed yourself with as much information as possible about clinical trials. Discuss the pros and cons with your family. Should you decide to move forward, the Alzheimer’s Association has a website that will help you find trials in your area.

Regardless of your decision, keep your own research activity up to date. Attend seminars. Collaborate with your healthcare provider. Being informed and staying on top of the latest potential breakthroughs is a great way to optimize your choices and tackle the many challenges that lie ahead.