If you're dealing with a chronic illness, joining a clinical trial is a way not only to help others by moving science forward but also, possibly, to receive cutting-edge treatment at the hands of a top medical team.
Older adults are often underrepresented in clinical trials, though participation is increasing. In 2019, 36 percent of subjects in clinical trials leading to approval of 48 new drugs were people 65 and older, up from 15 percent in 2018.
To join a trial, including those listed below, search for them on ClinicalTrials.gov, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) database. (Fill in your health condition or plug in the exact key codes in parentheses below to speed your search to one of these specific trials.) Here's a sampling of new trials with the potential to dramatically change the treatment of disease.
Cognitive impairment/Alzheimer's disease
The NIH supports more than 200 active clinical trials on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, says Laurie Ryan, chief of the clinical interventions and diagnostics branch in the National Institute on Aging's division of neuroscience. These studies — both currently recruiting — are late-stage trials on repurposing drugs used for other medical conditions.
An epilepsy drug for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) A formulation of levetiracetam, a commonly prescribed epilepsy drug, is being tested in a phase 3 global clinical trial to assess if it will reduce overactivity in the hippocampus and improve memory. Participants will receive either the drug or a placebo once daily for 78 weeks and be tested for improvements in memory. (NCT03486938)
Nicotine patch for memory improvement Nicotine has been shown to stimulate systems in the brain to help improve memory and attention. This study hopes to determine whether wearing a nicotine patch can improve memory and functioning in people with MCI. Researchers are recruiting 300 healthy individuals who show symptoms of mild memory loss. Participants will wear either a daily transdermal nicotine patch or a placebo patch for two years. (NCT02720445)
The COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), representing more than 100 clinical trial sites in the United States, has established a website (coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org) that includes a screening registry for volunteers. “We still need thousands more people,” says Jim Kublin, M.D., executive director of the CoVPN operations program, based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. For more information, call 866-288-1919.