Home Health & Education Meet Paul Newhouse and the AHEAD Study

Meet Paul Newhouse and the AHEAD Study

by Cass Teague
Professor Paul Newhouse, MD

Dr. Paul Newhouse is on a mission to attack the scourge of Alzheimer’s, and he and his global colleagues are conducting numerous studies at the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine (CCM) to address this degenerative disease, which disproportionately affects African Americans.

120,000 Tennesseans have Alzheimer’s Disease, with that number expected to grow to 140,000 by 2025. People of color are 2 times more likely than whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias, yet less likely to enroll in research studies. WHY??

The big news this month in Alzheimer’s Research is the FDA approval of the drug Lecanemab, which has shown to modestly slow the progression of the brain-robbing disease. It is expected to cost over $26,000 per year, and is not yet covered by insurance. Of concern is that few African Americans were enrolled in the study of this drug. Therefore, scant scientific data is available on the efficacy of the drug on black people. This is why we need to enroll in clinical trials, so that we can know when drugs are released on the market, what their relative effectiveness should be for African Americans.

The AHEAD Study at Vanderbilt CCM needs our help in getting African Americans to enroll in its study testing Lecanemab, which is aimed at slowing down the earliest changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The AHEAD Study is the first research study that aims to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by enrolling participants as young as 55yo and using a tailored dosing approach. Lecanemab is aimed at delaying memory decline in people up to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Discovering a treatment that targets brain changes early means doctors may be able to one day prevent memory loss.

You may be eligible to participate if you are a healthy adult between the ages of 55 and 80 years old, have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and have elevated or intermediate levels of amyloid in the brain. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that builds up in the brains of people who can go on to have memory problems. Participants are tested for this protein as part of the study screening process.

Study participants make a four-year commitment to the study. Each study visit includes a discussion of medications and general health. Some study visits also require an assessment of memory and thinking abilities, emotional and psychological state, ability to carry out everyday activities, blood tests, medication delivered by IV, EEG (electrocardiogram), MRI scan, Amyloid PET scan (brain imaging) and/or Tau PET scan (brain imaging). Study participants are compensated for every visit.

Dr. Newhouse is the Director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Clinical Core Director, Vanderbilt Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. He is also the Jim Turner Professor of Cognitive Disorders at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Medicine.

If you want to learn more about the studies being conducted at CCM or to schedule a FREE memory screening to access your memory, call 615-936-4997, email: blake.wilson@vumc.org or visit: VUMC.ORG/CCM.

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