Hospital Seeks Volunteers for Early Memory Loss Study

June 10, 2021 Updated: June 10, 2021

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Hoag Hospital is seeking volunteers to participate in a study to test an investigational treatment aimed at preventing the earliest stages of memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease.

The research is being conducted in conjunction with Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eisai Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Eisai Co., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

Called the AHEAD study, it is the first Alzheimer’s disease study to recruit adults as young as 55 who are at risk of developing systems of the disease as they age.

Researchers working on the study have determined that changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease can start up to 20 years before they notice obvious symptoms such as memory problems.

Participants will receive a tailored dose of the study treatment, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, and will be enrolled in one of two trials depending on the level of amyloid in their brain.

The study will be conducted in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Europe. Hoag was selected to participate in the parallel, 216-week study in part because of its renowned Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program and track record of successfully conducting complex clinical studies.

“Hoag has pioneered a program to help maintain cognitive health as we age, and combat the community’s fear of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, through the Orange County Vital Brain Program,” said Dr. Michael Brant-Zawadzki, Hoag’s senior physician executive, said in a press release.

“As a result, we are able to offer our community unique opportunities to participate in studies like the AHEAD Study. This is well-aligned with the mission of our Institute, and we are very excited to be a part of this pioneering effort to help identify ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, getting an accurate diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s can be a long and frustrating process.

Symptoms of the disease might be incorrectly attributed to stress or there could be conflicting diagnoses from different health care professionals for patients who could be in any stage of the disease since it affects each person differently with varying symptoms.

“The tailored approach of this study, starting treatment years before memory loss has begun, has the potential to be a breakthrough step in our aim to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. William R. Shankle, Hoag’s program director of memory and cognitive disorders.

Among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, experts say Alzheimer’s is the only disease that currently cannot be prevented, cured or dramatically slowed, making trials an important element in understanding the causes and potential treatments.

People between the ages of 55 and 80 may be eligible to enroll in Hoag’s trial if they meet certain eligibility criteria. For more information, email clinicalresearch@hoag.org.