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Upstate seeks patients for clinical trial of medication to treat early Alzheimer’s disease

Upstate Medical University is enrolling participants in a national Alzheimer’s disease (AD) clinical research trial evaluating the potential benefits of an investigational medicine for people with early Alzheimer’s disease.

AD is the most common cause of memory and thinking problems in people over 50. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and mild AD cause a measurable decline in memory, verbal ability, decision-making, and judgment. While many older adults feel as though their memory isn’t as good as it used to be, there are distinct differences between normal cognitive aging and the decline observed in people on the AD trajectory.

The VIVA-MIND study, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and sponsored by Vivoryon Therapeutics, is designed to determine if the study drug, called varoglutamstat, can stabilize or slow memory and thinking problems that increase in early AD.

The drug is aimed at two hallmarks of AD pathology. The first is a specific and toxic form of the amyloid protein that accumulates in the brain as well as the consequent brain inflammation associated with AD. The targeted toxic protein, called N3pE, appears to damage brain cells and surrounding tissues. N3pE is not found in healthy individuals and increases with AD progression. VIVA-MIND researchers suspect that N3pE may play a major role in the decline of memory and thinking skills in early AD.

“We hope this drug truly makes a difference in the everyday lives of people diagnosed with mild AD and mild cognitive impairment,” said Sharon Brangman, MD, FACP, AGSF, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of Geriatrics at Upstate. “By slowing the illness early, there is potential in disarming the toxic protein, and reducing inflammation before it can cause additional damage.”

Brangman, principal investigator of the clinical trial at Upstate, said if the drug works, it could effectively slow down memory and thinking problems, and inhibit the progression of the disease.

The study is seeking participants aged 50-85. Participants must already be stable on FDA-approved medications commonly prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease. The participant must live in the community—not a skilled nursing facility—and have a study partner who can accompany the participant to some clinic visits. Participants must be willing to commit to the study for up to 20 months, plus an initial screening and four-week follow-up. Participants take the study drug—a tablet—twice daily.

Individuals interested in seeing if they qualify for the study, can call 315-464-3285 or email [email protected]/