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Spring 2012 E-Newsletter

Spring 2012 UCLA Alzheimer's Research Center Newsletter

| Diagnosing AD | Student Volunteer | Walk To End Alzheimer's™ |
| 2012 Thank You Luncheon | Clinical Trials | Upcoming Event |

Is There A Single Test For Diagnosing AD?
By: Liana Apostolova, MD, MSCR

test diagnosing Alzheimer's disease Eli Lilly and Company announced on April 6, 2012, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved Amyvid, a radio ligand for use as a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Amyvid is a chemical that binds to protein in the brains of AD patients. Neurologists and other specialists trained in dementia evaluation can use Amyvid to distinguish AD from other causes of dementia with very high diagnostic accuracy. While this is exciting news for physicians and patients, several questions remain unanswered and warrant careful consideration.

First, can this test become the sole test for diagnosing AD? The answer is a definitive “No.” Diagnosis of AD requires a detailed neurological and cognitive evaluation, a structural scan of the brain, and laboratory work-up that might reveal an alternative and treatable cause for the patient’s cognitive symptoms.

Next, who should receive this scan? Amyvid scans will aid physicians in diagnosing or ruling out dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, especially in complex and challenging cases of dementia. Amyvid may also be useful in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), where a positive scan could implicate AD as the cause of cognitive changes. In research studies, positive amyloid PET scans are associated with a three-fold increased risk for developing dementia among those with MCI. Still, Amyvid scans are not for everyone. Most experts agree that cognitively normal persons should not have these scans. Many cognitively normal persons above the age of 65 years would have a positive amyloid scan, despite having perfect memories. It remains unclear (and an area of intense study) what the implications are of a positive scan in cognitively normal persons. Until this is better understood, these scans should not be offered to those who have no cognitive symptoms.

Finally, after a cognitively impaired patient gets results of a positive amyloid scan; what then? Presently, there are no available treatments capable of slowing AD. A positive amyloid scan at present can only lend support to the diagnosis and assist the healthcare team in working with families to understand their situation and plan for the future. Once better therapies for AD become available, Amyvid scans may play an important role in directing treatment strategies. With many promising experimental drugs in clinical trials, hopefully this day will come soon.

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Riley Kermanian: Easton Center Student Volunteer

Riley Kermanian Easton Center Student VolunteerPhoto: Riley Kermanian from Milken Community High School.
My name is Riley Kermanian and I am a Senior at Milken Community High School. I have a strong interest in the field of medicine that stems from the history of medical practitioners in my family. Because of this, I sought a research position that would allow me to explore both the medical field and research. I am volunteering at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, in the NeuroImaging laboratory of Dr. Liana Apostolova.

Dr. Apostolova and her team use structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better understand the brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease and aid in the search for a cure. In the lab, my job is to help in the process of building three-dimensional models of subjects’ brain MRIs. The models are used to see if changes in specific brain regions are linked to having a certain gene or protein level. Although it is a process that requires a huge amount of detailed work, it is exciting to increase my knowledge of AD and the human brain and to be directly involved in moving closer to a cure. I am looking forward to continuing to volunteer at the Easton Center and to eventually starting a professional career of my own in the field of medicine.

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Alzheimer's Association Walk To End Alzheimer's™
By: Arden Teplow

Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's The first San Fernando Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's™ was held on May 22, 2011 and was a fantastic success. As Co-Chair, I was very proud that the 2011 Walk had more than 860 participants, 38 exhibitors, 88 teams (including one from the Easton Center) and a number of significant sponsors. The day was filled with excitement, sharing, and a hint of rain. People brought their dogs, smiles, and their common belief that something can and must be done to combat this terrible disease. Participants let their voices be heard and shared experiences on the “Wall of Remembrance.” The CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, local elected officials, and many others spoke about the importance of the Walk and about those who had been touched by AD. It was a thrill to be cheered by our volunteers as we completed the walk, and it was gratifying to receive such a warm reception from the community.

As Co-Chair again this year, I hope that the success of the 2011 Walk will continue to grow. The 2012 Valley Walk To End Alzheimer's™ will be held Sunday, June 10 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys. Our goals remain the same: to support families facing Alzheimer’s disease, raise disease awareness and funding for research and family services, and advocate to legislators. We will do all of this in pursuit of ending AD. We hope you will join us.

To join the Easton Center team, please CLICK HERE.

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2012 Research Participant Thank You Luncheon

2012 Thank You Luncheon On March 31st, the Easton Center held its annual West Los Angeles Thank You Luncheon. This event honors the invaluable contributions of research participants and their families to the work of the Easton Center. More than 300 persons are enrolled in research studies at the Center and roughly a third were in attendance at the Luncheon.

This year, the Alzheimer's Association, OPICA, and Leeza's Place contributed to the event by offering information to attendees about available resources. After a series of six research update presentations from faculty, attendees participated in a lively question and answer session.

Scientific advancement in AD and other dementias is possible only through basic and clinical research. The Easton Center is incredibly proud of the work we do in partnership with patients, families, and volunteers. We are thankful for all who participate.

If you are someone you know would like to participate in research, please call Kulwant Dosanjh at (310) 794-8323 to be included in our potential participant registry.

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Clinical Research Opportunities

If you would like to advance Alzheimer's disease research, please consider participating at the Easton Center. Below are two current trials. For a complete list of enrolling studies, visit our website at www.eastonad.ucla.edu.

Study of an Antibody Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease:

The purpose of this research study is to investigate the safety and the effects of the experimental drug called MABT5102A in people with Alzheimer's Disease. The study is intended to find out what effects MABT5102A has on Alzheimer's Disease. MABT5102A is an antibody that targets the beta amyloid protein that accumulates in the brain in Alzheimer's Disease. This study will also test different routes of administration (ways of giving the drug; either into your vein or under your skin). The first 36 persons enrolled will be part of Study Part 1, and will receive the drug or placebo under your skin. The next 36 persons will be enrolled in Part 2, and will receive the drug or placebo into your vein. In both parts participants will be randomly (by chance) assigned to drug or placebo. Neither you nor your doctor will choose the group you will be in. You will have a 67% chance of receiving the study drug (in other words, 2 of every 3 patients participating will receive the study drug). You will have a 33% (1 out of 3) chance of receiving the placebo. For more information, please call (310) 794-6039 or www.eastonad.ucla.edu.

Study of Brain Metabolic Effects of Axona®:

This study will use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to examine the effects of the medical food Axona® on blood flow to the brain in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The study involves 3 visits to the clinic over the course of 45 days. 90% of participants in this study will receive the active medical food product and 10% of participants will receive a placebo (inactive product). Participants will be examined by a doctor as well as partake in cognitive testing, blood draws, and PET scans. Potential side effects of participating in this study are generally mild and will be carefully monitored throughout the study. To be eligible for this study, one must be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, between 50 and 90 years old, and in good health. For more information, please contact the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at (310) 794-6039 or www.eastonad.ucla.edu.

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2012 Walk to End Alzheimer's™ San Fernando Valley
Date: Sunday, June 10th, 2012
Time: 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Van Nuys, California (Woodley Park)

Join the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's™ and unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions. With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, and nearly 11 million more serving as caregivers, the time to act is now! CLICK HERE to join the Easton Center team.


Our mailing address is:
Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA
10911 Weyburn Avenue, Suite #200
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7226
http://www.eastonad.ucla.edu | Phone Number: (310) 794-6039
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Copyright © 2012. Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA. All rights reserved.

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