COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – More than 6 million people in the country are living with Alzheimer’s disease and the Centers for Disease Control predicts that number will rise to 14 million by 2060 without effective treatment.
Doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center just enrolled the first person in the country in a new clinical trial, testing a drug that aims to slow the progression of the disease.
In Ohio, 220,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s and for every person diagnosed with the disease, there are two to three caregivers providing support each day.
The new clinical trial is called Viva-Mind and medical experts at Ohio State said this next-generation Alzheimer’s drug has the potential to change the course of the disease in its early stages.
“We are so grateful and dependent on people that are willing to undergo clinical trials,” said Dr. Douglas Scharre, the director of Cognitive Neurology at the Wexner Medical Center.
Scharre’s team is the first in the country to recruit a patient to take part in the Viva-Mind clinical trial.
“Very excited,” Scharre said. “It’s a trial through the National Institute of Health or National Institute of Aging. It’s a phase two trial, using this medication varoglutamstat.”
He said the study hopes the new mediation will remove the highly toxic proteins that are killing nerve cells in the brain of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“It also reduces inflammation, so we are very impressed with its potential,” Scharre said.
Ohio State is one of more than 25 medical centers across the country testing the new drug, and the clinical trial is expected to last a year to a year and a half.
“So it’s a fairly long trial, but you need that length of time to really determine whether the medication is useful or not,” Scharre said.
Scharre said his team is actively seeking new participants to take part in the trial.
“We’re looking for very mild cases, so if they have severe Alzheimer’s, no, it would not be correct for them,” he said. “So we’re trying to get individuals, as always, that just have early mild cognitive impairment or just mild Alzheimer’s dementia.”
In June of 2021, Adulem was the first Alzheimer’s drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 18 years, but Scharre said that recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would limit the coverage of the drug until further tests were done. Clinical trials are the only way to get medications to treat Alzheimer’s readily available for those suffering with the disease, Scharre said.