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Interactive Tool

New Help for Alzheimer’s Patients Who Want Experimental Treatments

Online tool helps them sign up for clinical trials

This week, the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading advocacy and research organization for the disease, launched a new personalized interactive tool to help Alzheimer’s patients find clinical trials for which they might be eligible. The tool, called TrialMatch, can also be used by doctors, family members or anyone interested in participating as a control subject or “healthy volunteer.”

TrialMatch lets each person search more than 100 research trials and narrows the results to those trials where there is a reasonable chance that person might be accepted for enrollment. This saves time for patients and lets researchers enroll the right participants to help them study the effectiveness of a treatment.

Although scientists’ understanding of Alzheimer’s disease has increased dramatically in the past 15 years, the current drugs for treating the disease only temporarily improve the symptoms. They still cannot stop the damage to brain cells that causes Alzheimer’s to progress.

One of the biggest obstacles to further research is a lack of volunteers for Alzheimer drug and treatment trials, experts say. The Alzheimer’s Association hopes that TrialMatch will help speed up the recruitment of participants for clinical trials aimed at developing the next generation of Alzheimer treatments.

The listings in TrialMatch come from publicly available sources, such as the National Institutes of Health’s site. In addition, a wide variety of research facilities and trial sites across the country are including their studies in TrialMatch’s database.

In order to be included in TrialMatch, sites must submit proof of their approval by an institutional review board. This is a committee that approves, monitors and reviews all research involving humans to protect the rights and welfare of the research subjects. The trials are also reviewed by the Alzheimer’s Association before being included in TrialMatch.

TrialMatch is free and can be accessed online or by calling 1-800-272-3900. The toll-free number is staffed 24 hours a day, with TrialMatch specialists available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT.

Katharine Greider lives in New York and writes about health and medicine.

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