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LSU's Pennington Biomedical Marks Alzheimer's Awareness Month with New Alzheimer's Prevention Study

Released: Monday, November 28, 2016

Baton Rouge, LA – LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center is marking Alzheimer's Awareness Month by opening its participation in a new multi-site research study that seeks to test a new method for preventing Alzheimer's disease. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Risk Reduction for Alzheimer's Disease (rrAD) study aims to determine whether aerobic exercise combined with specific blood pressure and cholesterol medications can help preserve brain function.

"Alzheimer's is a complex disease without a cure or any new treatments. This research study aims to figure out which combination of medications and lifestyle changes may best help people avoid the disease. We hope the information learned from this study helps us as we work to target therapies for Alzheimer's prevention," said Dr. Jeff Keller, an investigator on the study and director of Pennington Biomedical's Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention.

The rrAD study builds upon prior research linking healthy lifestyles to better brain function. There is compelling evidence that hypertension is linked to development of dementia later in life, but more information is needed to determine whether treating high blood pressure can preserve the brain's function. Physicians and researchers also need to know what kind of exercise and which medications and blood pressure levels will benefit at-risk patients most. Over the next five years, the rrAD study hopes to enroll more than 600 older adults across the country who are at high risk for Alzheimer's disease. Participants will take part in regular aerobic exercise and will receive medications to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.

To qualify for the rrAD research study, participants should:

  • Be between the ages of 60 and 85 years old
  • Have concerns about memory loss or have an immediate relative with a diagnosis of dementia
  • Have high blood pressure or be on medication for high blood pressure
  • Have a primary care physician

In addition to Pennington Biomedical, other trial sites for the rrAD study include The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Health Resources in Dallas, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Washington University School of Medicine and Michigan State University.

In the United States, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, which is likely to affect 1 in 9 people age 65 and older. In coming years as the baby boom generation continues to reach age 65 and beyond, the number of Alzheimer's disease diagnoses is expected to skyrocket. By 2050, as many as 13.8 million people are expected to have the disease. The total cost to our nation now is $236 billion now, but projections show that cost could rise to more than $1 trillion by 2050*.

"For the health of people here in Louisiana and beyond, brain aging research is essential to improving quality of life not just for people who have received a diagnosis, but for their families and caregivers too. At Pennington Biomedical, we are committed to cutting-edge research that helps us move forward in the quest for ways to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Will Cefalu, executive director for Pennington Biomedical.

Pennington Biomedical has a number of active brain aging studies for people who are concerned about their brain health or who have received an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

  • A4 Study: testing an investigational medication (Solanezumab) to see whether it can slow down memory loss and prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  • APECS Study: testing the safety and tolerability of the investigational drug MK-8931 in the treatment of people with Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimer's disease.
  • Axovant Study: evaluating the investigational drug RVT-101 and its effect on patients living with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. This study will assess the improvement of patients' ability to perform daily living activities and cognitive function over time and will evaluate the safety and tolerance of patients while on the medication.

Pennington Biomedical's Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention was created in 2008 with the mission of improving the quality of life for people in Louisiana by generating world-class research programs focused on Alzheimer's and dementia prevention, providing access to the latest clinical trials for the treatment of dementia, and providing educational opportunities for individuals and families affected by dementia. The IDRP is the only Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study site between Houston and Birmingham, ranking it among top-tier research institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and Yale University.

For information about how to participate in the rrAD study or other brain aging studies, click here, call 225-763-2973 or e-mail dementia@pbrc.edu.

*Statistics from the Alzheimer's Association. More information can be found here.

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical’s more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.