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The Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA has very active teams working on basic research, drug discovery, biomarkers for early diagnosis and clinical activity including clinical trials, cognitive testing and patient care. This edition of our newsletter focuses on our clinical programs. [PDF Version]
A Discussion with Dr. Verna Porter About Medications.
Though we currently have no cure for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), two classes of drugs are available that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
I met with Dr. Verna Porter to discuss her thoughts on the current medications available as well as non-pharmacological treatments. Our discussion is below:
1. What are your thoughts on the current FDA approved treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?
Beyond that, at UCLA, since we are a research institute, we are looking at clinical trials and often times I advocate for my patients to at least consider the possibility of including themselves in a clinical trial which in principal could gain them access to additional investigational drugs. We are hopeful that some of these newer drugs may be disease modifying. Of course, in clinical trials we are trying to understand the medications and cannot guarantee that they would work in a certain way, but that is part of the research process. The notion behind these newer drugs that we are trying to develop is that they may have some ability to stop, fix or correct the disease. How effective they will be will be determined in the course of the research process.
2. Can you share your thoughts on non-pharmacological treatments?
3. What about more alternative therapies?
The UCLA Neurology Dementia and Memory Disorders Clinic is a component of Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA (Easton Center) specializes in the evaluation and diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and related disorders. An early diagnosis enables patients to take advantage of the most effective therapies and to maintain the highest level of functioning for the longest period of time. Callers can speak directly with the triage coordinator who will collect relevant medical information and, with input from expert clinicians, schedule patients or refer to the most appropriate UCLA clinic. For appointments or questions, please contact Barbara Dwyer at (310) 794-6039.
Photo and written By: Ellen Woo, PhD
Our doctors in the Neuropsychology Clinic of the Department of Neurology specialize in the assessment and diagnosis of neurological conditions, including dementia. Dementia is by definition a disorder of cognition (thinking skills), and only a neuropsychological evaluation can directly and comprehensively evaluate your cognition. A neuropsychological evaluation involves testing that is sensitive to problems in brain functioning. Unlike CT or MRI scans, which show what the structure of the brain looks like, neuropsychological testing examines how well the brain is working when it performs certain functions, such as remembering past events. The tests assess multiple areas of thinking, such as intellectual ability, attention, memory, reasoning, problem solving, visual-spatial functions, language, sensory-perceptual functions, motor skills, mood, and personality functioning. Many people believe they have problems with memory when they actually have difficulty with other areas of cognition, such as focusing their attention. There can be multiple causes to the same cognitive symptoms, and a neuropsychological evaluation is useful in the determination of these causes.
The evaluation is not invasive, typically involves paper-and pencil testing, and is conducted by a clinical neuropsychologist. A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist specializing in the area of brain-behavior relationships. Although a neuropsychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology, he or she does not just focus on emotional or psychological problems. Neuropsychologists have additional training in the specialty field of clinical neuropsychology and have expertise in brain anatomy, brain function, and brain injury or disease. The neuropsychologist also has specialty training in administering and interpreting the specific kinds of tests included in your evaluation.
Some of the goals of the evaluation are to define your strengths and weaknesses in regard to your thinking skills, form any cognitive and/or psychological diagnoses, find possible problems with brain functioning, and track any changes in cognitive functioning over time. Therefore, neuropsychologists can make relevant recommendations to your healthcare provider that can be important for your treatment planning. In addition, the neuropsychologist can make recommendations to you about how to compensate for your weaknesses in everyday life using your strengths.
If you believe you have problems with your cognition and would like an appointment in the Neuropsychology Clinic in the Department of Neurology, please call the Clinic Call Center at (310) 794-1195.
New Addition to the Easton Center
Please join us in welcoming a new member to the Easton Center.
Photo: Andrea Silva, M.A.
Andrea Silva has a background in clinical and non-clinical research. She worked at the NIH, NIMH, FDA, DEA and several other federal organizations. Throughout her career, Andrea has been a managing editor and collaborated with publishing annual scientific research proceedings. She has coordinated research forums, symposiums, and clinical research trainings. She has been part of several research committees throughout the country and worked with international committee members. Also, she was an advocate and participated in committees’ meetings on Capitol Hill. She has collaborated with research, training and education staff in the selection of research awards to medical students. Andrea has experience in research funding and grant management. She has worked in hospitals in the areas of neurology, psychology, psychiatry, trauma and with patients of all ages. Andrea is also very involved with community work, being a board member, committee member and being on the leadership council for several nonprofit organizations. We welcome Andrea to the Easton Center and Neuropsychology.
Clinical Research Opportunities
If you would like to advance Alzheimer's disease research, please consider participating at the Easton Center. Below are the current recruiting trials. For a complete list of enrolling studies, visit our website at www.eastonad.ucla.edu.
The ENGAGE study is a Phase III clinical trial sponsored by Biogen of the investigational drug aducadumab. Individuals aged 50-85 who are diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment may be eligible to participate in this trial. The goal of the study is to assess whether aducanumab, a drug that targets brain amyloid, can reduce brain amyloid levels and slow memory loss associated with amyloid build up. Participants will be randomized to receive active drug or placebo (inactive substance) via monthly infusions. The study lasts approximately 2 years, which includes an 8-week screening period and 4.5 month follow up period once the investigational drug/placebo phase is completed. To learn more, please call (310) 794-6191 or visit www.eastonad.ucla.edu.
The Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease (A4) Study:
The Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease (A4) Study is a clinical study for older individuals ages 65-85 who have normal thinking and memory function but who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) memory loss sometime in the future. This study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, Eli Lilly, and the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute. The purpose of the A4 study is to test whether a new investigational treatment can slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing amyloid levels in the brain. The A4 Study lasts for three years, and participants will be assigned at random to receive either the investigational drug or a placebo (inactive substance) via monthly infusions and will be regularly monitored over that period.
You may be eligible to join the A4 Study if you:
If you are interested in participating, please call (310) 794-6191 or visit www.eastonad.ucla.edu.
The CREAD Study: A Study of Crenezumab Versus Placebo to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety in Participants with Prodromal to Mild Alzheimer’s Disease (AD):
The CREAD study is a Phase III clinical trial sponsored by Genentech/F. Hoffman-La Roche of the investigational drug, crenezumab, which is an anti-amyloid antibody. The goal of the study is to test whether monthly infusions of crenezumab, will slow down disease progression and memory loss by reducing brain amyloid levels. Participants will have a 50% chance of receiving active study drug versus placebo (an inactive substance). The study lasts approximately 2 years, with 26 infusion visits and the possibility of an open label extension upon completion. Individuals ages 50-85 with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (prodromal Alzheimer’s disease) and mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease may be eligible to participate. To learn more, please call (310) 794-6191 or visit www.eastonad.ucla.edu.
Curcumin and Yoga Therapy for Those at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease:
Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease Phenotypes: Neuropsychology and Neural Networks:
The Behavioral Neurology program is conducting an NIH-funded study to try to understand and clarify why some individuals develop Alzheimer’s disease at a young age. By understanding the reasons for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the investigators hope to shed light on what happens in Alzheimer’s disease at all ages. Participants will undergo neurological tasks, neuropsychological assessments, and a special MRI of structural and functional brain networks. The study is approximately 1 year long, with 3 visits within the first month and 2 visits at the 1-year follow up. Study participation is open to all patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but especially those diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosed before age 65). To learn more, please visit https://behavioral.neurology.ucla.edu/research.
Alzheimer's Disease Basics
Date: Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Time: 2:00 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.
Location: Atria Tarzana Independent Living/Assisted Living
5325 Etiwanda Avenue, Tarzana, CA 91356
Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, currently affecting 5.3 million Americans. Sarah Kremen, M.D., Clinical Physician of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will talk about who is most affected by Alzheimer’s as well as the latest treatments and medical options. RSVP: (800) 516-5323.
Update on Alzheimer's Disease Research
Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 3:00 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.
Location: Belmont Village Encino
15451 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Gal Bitan, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Residence of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will present "Update on Alzheimer's Disease Research.” Dr. Bitan will speak about the research he is conducting here at UCLA to combat Alzheimer’s disease.
Update on Research and Clinical Trials
Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2017
Time: 6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Location: Silverado Beverly Place
330 N. Hayworth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Monica Moore, M.S.G. will address the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease and the clinical trials that are currently taking place at the Easton Center.
For information on other upcoming lectures and events, please visit the Easton Center Community Calendar.