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Health Information New Drug May Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease

No drug on the market can prevent or stop Alzheimer's disease. However, a clinical trial now being conducted at Rush University Medical University might help to change that. Researchers at Rush are involved in a nationwide clinical trial of a drug that may block a critical pathway in Alzheimer's that causes damage to nerve cells in the brain.

Up to four and a half million Americans are thought to have Alzheimer's disease. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that begins with memory loss and confusion and leads to changes in behavior and personality and severe loss of mental function. The disease progresses as plaques and tangles build up in the brain and cause inflammation and nerve damage. It is hoped that the study drug will slow or prevent disease progression by reducing the formation of these plaques and tangles, which are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

This phase II clinical trial will recruit 400 volunteers nationwide with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and evaluate their progress over 18 months. The study will help to define a safe dose that can be effective in slowing progression of the disease. Rush University Medical Center is one of 40 participating research sites. The study will not only monitor disease progression through cognitive tests but will also investigate what is happening on a chemical level as well. Investigators will directly observe changes in the brain using MRI and measure levels of key proteins involved in the formation of these plaques and tangles, according to Raj C. Shah, MD, principal investigator at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center.

Food and Alzheimer's
Rush researchers Martha Clare Morris, ScD, and Denis A. Evans, MD, have found that certain foods may affect your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Here's their advice:

  • Eat vitamin E rich foods. Foods rich in vitamin E include oil-based salad dressings, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, may prevent oxidation of the brain which leads to mental deterioration.
  • Eat fish at least once a week. Fish contains n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, a major component of the brain structure that is important for normal brain functioning.
  • Limit saturated and trans-unsaturated fats. It's best to limit fatty meats, full-fat dairy products such as butter and milk, and items with vegetable shortening like cookies and crackers. These foods are associated with high cholesterol, which is bad for the brain as well as the heart.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • To learn more about care at Rush for people with Alzheimer's disease, visit the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center home page.
  • For information on medical services for older adults, visit the Geriatric Services home page. Or call (800) 757-0202.
  • To learn more about our a free health and aging membership program for older adults and the people who care for them, visit the Rush Generations home page. Or call (800) 757-0202. Rush Generations can help you with your goals for vital, healthy living.
  • For information on spine care at Rush visit the Rush Spine and Back Center home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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