Volunteers needed to study Alzheimer's disease treatment

Researchers at the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center are seeking volunteers for a study to determine if the drug Memantine is as effective in patients diagnosed with mild cases of Alzheimer's disease or its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, as it is in moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer's.

The year-long study will examine whether Memantine can slow or stop the deterioration of the brain and if it can help delay, weaken or prevent difficult behaviors in people with early stage Alzheimer's. The researchers, Jerome Yesavage, MD, and Wes Ashford, MD, will use magnetic resonance imaging to determine the drug's effectiveness. Participants will get MRI brain scans at the beginning of the study. Half the volunteers will then get Memantine, the rest placebos. At the end of the year, they will repeat the brain scans and compare them with the initial ones.

Memantine works by partially blocking NMDA receptors, which are a type of receptor for the chemical glutamate. The drug helps ensure that the right amount of glutamate is available to support the chemical environment needed for the brain to process, store and retrieve information, resulting in learning and memory.

The study, which is sponsored by Forest Laboratories Inc., needs volunteers between the ages of 50 and 90 who have been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease and who are able to ingest oral medication. Participants must also have a caregiver/study partner who can provide informed consent to participate and who can attend all clinic visits to report on the study participant's activities and behavior.

For more information, contact Aimee Stepp at (800) 943-4333 or (650) 493-5000, ext. 65654.