PHOENIX – Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) will work closely with the National Institute of Health, Genentech and the University of Antioquia in Colombia in a first-ever Alzheimer’s prevention trial study.
The groundbreaking study is the first to investigate whether an anti-amyloid treatment can stave off the disease in cognitively healthy people who are 100 percent destined through their genetic makeup to develop Alzheimer’s.
“This is a pretty out-of-the-box approach, taking people without problems but who are 100 percent certain to develop Alzheimer’s disease because of their genetic makeup,” said Dr. Pierre Tariot, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
The $100 million trial is the cornerstone of a new international collaborative – the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative – formed to accelerate the evaluation of promising but unproven prevention therapies.
The study will focus on a large extended family of about 300 people in Colombia who share a rare genetic mutation that typically triggers Alzheimer’s symptoms around age 45.
The trial will also include a smaller number of individuals in the U.S. The study is designed to determine whether a drug called crenezumab can reduce participants’ chances of developing the disease’s disabling and irreversible symptoms.
“We are grateful for the chance to evaluate such a promising prevention treatment,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, BAI’s executive director. “We have tried to design the study in a way that might bring the field closer to ending Alzheimer’s before another generation is lost.”
The study is supported by a five-year, $16 million NIH grant, $15 million in philanthropic funds from BAI and the balance from Genentech — a member of the Roche Group — that is developing creezumab in collaboration with Swiss biotech company AC Immune SA.
“Genentech is very excited to be part of this landmark effort,” said Richard Scheller, Genentech’s executive vice president of research and early development. “If the study demonstrates that we can prevent the disease in this special group of patients, it may pave the way to preventing Alzheimer’s in the general population.”
Tariot said a Denver resident, Jerre Stead, has pledged $6 million toward BAI’s commitment to the project through the Stead Family Foundation.
“They gave us a wonderful jumpstart to our fundraising campaign,” Tariot said.
Banner Health owns McKee Medical Center in Loveland and has a contract to operate North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. Tariot said whether Banner facilities other than BAI that might be involved in the study will be announced in coming months.
About 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s in 2012, a number that’s expected to top 7.7 million by 2030. Worldwide, Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are expected to affect nearly 66 million by 2030.