LOS ANGELES – Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Harvard Medical School and Cleveland Clinic have developed an online tool that helps older people monitor their brain health.
The free website called the Alzheimer Prevention Trials Webstudy addresses a major obstacle to finding early Alzheimer’s treatments for a disease that affects more than 5 million Americans: significant delays in clinical trial enrollment. It directs seemingly healthy people at increased risk of developing the disease into appropriate clinical trials aimed at preventing dementia.
“Using traditional methods to recruit participants for Alzheimer’s clinical trials is far too slow and expensive,” said Paul Aisen, director of the USC Alzheimer Therapeutic Research Institute, said in a statement. “We’re incorporating innovations such as web-based assessments and establishing trial-ready cohorts to build a bridge between the problem and the solution.”
The online platform allows people who are age 50 or older to monitor their cognitive health over time. Participants create a profile that asks about personal health, educational history and exercise habits. Participants take a 20-minute brain test every three months, and if their cognitive health begins to decline and their profile indicates they are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, they can join a nearby clinical trial.
“Our online tool will cut the price tag of early Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials by two-thirds because we won’t have to spend millions testing people who won’t develop Alzheimer’s disease,” said Aisen. “We aim to complete recruitment for early Alzheimer’s clinical trials in a matter of months rather than years. We’ve been moving far too slowly on developing new treatment options for Alzheimer’s. It’s time to utilize the latest technologies to accelerate the process.”