Miami Jewish Health Runs Trial of Promising Alzheimer’s Drug

August 6th, 2018
Marc E. Agronin, M.D., is the vice president of clinical research and behavioral health at Miami Jewish Health. He recently authored the book "The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life."

An experimental drug that has slowed the memory decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease was among several drugs recently tested in ongoing clinical trials at Miami Jewish Health.

The success of the experimental drug from Biogen and Japanese partner Eisai was announced in July at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. The news gives support to the the theory that targeting amyloid buildups in the brain can alter the course of the disease.

A clinical trial for the drug was in progress at Miami Jewish Health from April 2013-March 2018.

“It’s reassuring for our patients that not only are they receiving something that could possibly make a difference but it also has value towards understanding the disease state,” said Ricardo Castañeda, Miami Jewish Health’s director of clinical research and business development. “We are happy to be collaborating with Biogen and Eisai in developing a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”

The news is encouraging. At least nine late-stage clinical trials of Alzheimer’s medications have failed in the last 10 years. Targeting amyloid plaques to alter the disease’s progression remains a prevailing theory in the field of clinical research.

Marc E. Agronin, M.D., vice president of clinical research and behavioral health at Miami Jewish Health, was cautiously optimistic, adding that there is still much work to be done.

“The results are very promising but there a long road ahead of us. We need to continue to study this and other agents which means we need subjects to participate in these critically important clinical trials,” Agronin said.

Test Results Offer Hope for the Future

According to Esai, the drug reduced cognitive declines by 30 percent at its highest dose in the trial after 18 months. The drug dramatically reduced buildups of amyloid plaque in the brain, by 93 percent at the highest dose, Esai said.

“We think this result is really the first of its kind,” said Lynn Kramer, Esai’s chief medical officer of its neurology business group, at the Alzheimer’s conference. She said the results were “robust enough to approach regulatory authors to discuss the next steps.”

The 30 percent slowing of Alzheimer’s progression was measured by a scale called the Alzheimer’s disease competitive score, or ADCOMS, a combination of commonly used endpoints to gauge cognition, or the ability to remember things and think clearly, according to Eisai.

Heather Snyder, the senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said the findings are a bright light.

“It’s hope in terms that we continue to look for potential treatments,” Snyder said.

The study, of 856 people, included patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, those with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s or mild Alzheimer’s dementia. More than five million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimers.

5 Reasons Why You Should Participate in a Clinical Trial

  • You can play a more active role in your own health care.
  • You can gain access to potential treatments before they are widely available.
  • You can receive expert medical care at leading healthcare facilities — often free of cost — while participating in important medical research.
  • You can help future generations by contributing to Alzheimer’s research.Every clinical trial contributes valuable knowledge, whether or not the treatment works as hoped.
  • You gain access to investigational treatments before they become widely available

(Source: Alzheimer’s Association)

For information about clinical studies at Miami Jewish Health, call 305-514-8710.

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