A recent news story from Milwaukee PBS highlighted a research study led by Cynthia Carlsson, MD, MS, at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW SMPH) that is investigating a drug that could one day prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The AHEAD study is a global study with 100 sites worldwide investigating lecanemab, a treatment aimed at delaying memory decline in people up to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear.
Marilyn Krause, a research participant enrolled in the AHEAD study, described how her husband Larry’s death from cancer prompted her desire to contribute to medical research.
“I know how much research has helped cancer and I thought, I really can’t do anything to fight what killed him, but maybe I can do something here,” Krause said.
The AHEAD study started at UW SMPH under the guidance of Carlsson. “The AHEAD study is really a study to see if we can prevent Alzheimer’s in people whose thinking ability is normal. They have no symptoms of memory loss, but they have a build-up of a protein called amyloid,” Carlsson said. Deposits of amyloid in the brain, called amyloid plaques, are a hallmark finding associated with Alzheimer’s disease, although not every person with amyloid plaques will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Carlsson said U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) full approval of lecanemab on July 6, 2023 spurred excitement in the field about the study. “It’s still not for sure. That’s why we have to do these studies, to see if they really do help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s,” she said. “But if it does show that, it would be really one of the first trials to show that there’s a way to actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Alzheimer’s study” aired November 15, 2023, on Milwaukee PBS.
Information about the AHEAD clinical trial at UW–Madison is available on the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) website.
Information about the national AHEAD study is online on the AHEAD website.