Beaumont researchers seeking participants for study
A team from the Beaumont Research Institute believes low-dose radiation might be a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are now seeking patients with Alzheimer’s disease for the study.
In early pre-clinical studies, radiation was found to be effective in reducing brain plaques. These plaques are a protein, known as beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brain. It is widely believed the buildup of beta-amyloid protein causes cognitive impairment leading to Alzheimer’s disease.
For the past seven years, a team of Beaumont researchers have been studying the use of low-dose radiation therapy to treat Alzheimer’s in several models. They have been one of the first in the world to study radiation for Alzheimer’s. The Food and Drug Administration has given them approval for a study designed to examine effects of radiation on people with moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The Beaumont study is taking place at two sites: Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, under the direction of principal investigator Dr. James Fontanesi; and Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Prakash Chinnaiyan.
Researchers are seeking individuals with moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease for whole brain radiation treatments. Patients who meet the study criteria and are consented, will receive treatments for five consecutive days for 15 minutes or less each day. Cognitive testing, quality of life assessment, and PET scans to examine amyloid plaque will be done before and after radiation to determine if the treatment affects disease progression after four, six and 12 months. Potential toxicity will also be monitored.
Explained George Wilson, Ph.D., radiobiologist and researcher, “Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and current pharmaceuticals have had limited success. Pharmaceuticals are costly and time consuming to develop. In contrast, radiation therapy is a proven treatment for cancer and can be done safely, quickly and inexpensively.”
Beaumont researchers believe modest treatments of radiation therapy targeted to the brain might be effective at reducing beta-amyloid and the progression of Alzheimer’s, while not producing further cognitive deficits.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. As Americans age, the number of those affected by Alzheimer’s is rising dramatically. Today, close to 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, it’s estimated that figure will increase to 14 million.
Alzheimer’s disease can affect a person’s ability to think, communicate, and function. It greatly impacts their relationships, independence and lifestyle, as well as their family and caretakers. The condition’s toll not only affects nearly 6 million patients and their families, but in 2019 it will cost the nation $290 billion, with that number increasing to $1 trillion by 2050.