Few drugs are currently available to treat Alzheimer’s Disease, and their effects are limited. No new treatments have been approved in more than a decade. The T2 Protect AD study hopes to buck that trend with a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
The Princeton Medical Institute was chosen as the second site in the country for a clinical trial involving troriluzole, designed to help people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Researchers are recruiting New Jersey residents who might be eligible to take part in the study and receive the experimental treatment.
Troriluzole is not a drug — rather, it’s what’s known as a prodrug. Explains Dr. Irfan Qureshi of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, the company at the helm of the study: “A prodrug is essentially a molecule that by itself is pharmacologically active, but its interaction with the body turns it into an active drug. It’s a way to get an optimal amount of drug into the bloodstream.”
Troriluzole is an inactive form of a medication that has been prescribed for more than two decades to treat ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease). But it’s not just the treatment approach that’s novel in this study — the way it’s intended to slow or stop the advance of Alzheimer’s is different, too.
Past research has focused mostly on trying to clear away the beta-amyloid “plaques” that accumulate in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, but those efforts so far have brought disappointing results. Troriluzole is aimed at an entirely different target: glutamate, a molecule that serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In someone with Alzheimer’s, glutamate begins to go awry, leading to brain cell dysfunction. Dr. Qureshi says Troriluzole has good potential to protect cognition, leaving neurons more able to talk to each other.
This clinical trial is open to women and men between the ages of 50 and 85 who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease but are otherwise in good health. Other criteria include: Living in a community setting (not assisted living); having a study partner who has regular contact with you and can accompany you on visits to the clinic; and being available to take part in the study for 48 weeks.
Dr. Olga Tchinkindas, the lead investigator for the T-2 study at the Princeton Medical Institute, says lining up sites for the clinical trial has not been a problem. “We’ve had tremendous interest from investigators,” she says. “The more they learn, the more they say, ‘Hey, I really want to participate in that.’”
“We need help with (recruiting) patients,” she says. “They are probably looking for us, and we are looking for them. We hope people will try to come and help us.”
More information on the T2 Protect AD study and a complete list of participating sites is available on the study Web site.
If you are interested in being considered for the trial being conducted at the Princeton Medical Institute, you can call them at (609) 921-6050.