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Dr. Sharon Brangman

Upstate participating in clinical trial to test blood pressure medication to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Upstate Medical University is seeking patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease to participate in a new clinical trial to test how a well-established blood pressure medication may help some patients.

The joint study is called PEACE-AD, which stands for Prazosin for Disruptive Agitation in Alzheimer’s Disease. Prazosin has been used for several decades to treat high blood pressure, but may be able to help Alzheimer’s patients who have disruptive behavior due to the disease.

Upstate’s Nappi Longevity Institute is participating in the study, which is being coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a national academic research organization that specializes in clinical trials related to Alzheimer’s.

“Part of our mission with the Nappi Longevity Institute is to expand our research base with Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Director and Chair of the Department of Geriatrics, Sharon Brangman, MD, FACP, AGSF. “We are always looking at new approaches for managing patients who have agitation.”

Disruptive agitation is a common symptom of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. The behavior can include yelling, aggression, pacing, screaming and not sleeping, Brangman said. These behaviors are problematic and interfere with essential care, disrupt living environments and can be difficult and stressful for caregivers.

“It can manifest a whole number of ways,” she said. “The behaviors are very traumatic for patients and can be very disruptive to families who are taking care of someone 24 hours a day.”

The nationwide clinical trial is looking to enroll 186 people with five to 10 coming from Upstate. The study will take a total of 16 weeks and involves 13 visits, most of which can be done remotely. Participants must be living at home with a full-time caregiver and have been experiencing disruptive behaviors for four weeks. Participation will involve taking a daily medication, monitoring blood pressure with a provided device and answering a series of questions about behavior.

“We are looking for people with Alzheimer’s who have had behaviors that are hard to manage or hard to control. We know it’s challenging to participate in a study like this,” Brangman said. “But we would be helping families and caregivers and following them very closely. Caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s can feel very alone and isolated so our hope is that through this they would be supported and monitored through frequent contact.”

Brangman said studying an established medication like Prazosin could be very beneficial since it’s already had FDA approval for a long time.

“Once a drug is on the market you can use it any way you’d like,” she said, noting that the clinical trial will help determine its effectiveness, dosage and how it may interact with other medications.

The Nappi Longevity Institute is dedicated to research on Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 6 million Americans. Major components of the program will be housed in the five-floor Longevity Institute, which is currently being constructed across from the Upstate Cancer Center.

Upstate has placed renewed focus on the study of Alzheimer’s disease in recent years, Brangman said and this clinical trial is just one component of that work.

“The SUNY Peace AD team is committed to finding people who need help to become volunteers in the study,” Brangman said. “We need people from all walks of life to sign up now.”

The Peace AD study is funded by the National Institute on Aging/NIH and the Alzheimer’s Association. The study is coordinated by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), located at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

To volunteer for the Peace AD study or for more information, please visit www.peacead.org  or contact Upstate Geriatrics Clinical Research at 315-464-3285 or [email protected].