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Rochester Is Nation's Leading Alzheimer's Study Site

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More people have taken part in Alzheimer’s studies at the University of Rochester Medical Center than at any other site in the nation, according to figures from the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study group, the premier collection of scientists nationwide who work together to test new treatments for the disease.

During the last five years, 130 people in the Rochester area took part in the group’s studies, a number nearly double the next-highest institution’s total of 68. Rochester’s numbers are even more significant when the size of the metropolitan area is compared to other cities like New York and Los Angeles, which also have study sites. ADCS includes 66 sites around the country.

“The altruism that people in Rochester show by taking of their time to do what they can to fight Alzheimer’s is remarkable and touching,” said Anton Porsteinsson, M.D., who leads the Rochester site. “Their efforts now will pay off perhaps for themselves, but more likely their children and grandchildren, as we continue to discover new ways to treat and hopefully prevent the disease.”

In the past 20 years, physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center and their patients have taken part in virtually every large study of a potential Alzheimer’s medication. Their work has spanned a time when there were no medications approved to treat the disease, to today when an array of drugs is available to help fight symptoms such as memory loss, thanks in part to people who volunteered for early studies of the medications.

Among recent findings from such studies, University doctors have shown that a common seizure medication holds promise in the treatment of dementia, and they are playing a major role in a large study to test whether anti-inflammatory medications help prevent the disease.

Currently doctors and patients at the University’s Program in Neurobehavioral Therapeutics and its Memory Disorders Clinic are taking part in 14 studies. Efforts include a $60 million study to test whether new imaging techniques and other technology can be better used to assess and treat patients with memory loss and dementia, and tests of new compounds designed to better treat the disease, slow the cognitive decline it causes, or even prevent the disease outright.

Overall more than 1,500 people from the Rochester area have taken part in dozens of Alzheimer’s studies that have helped advance treatment for millions of patients around the globe. The University is the leading site for Alzheimer’s treatment throughout western New York, with about 2,500 patients.

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only area where University doctors and Rochester volunteers have contributed in a mighty way. More people in Rochester have taken part in studies of a bird flu vaccine than in any other community in the world, thanks to the University’s role responding to infectious threats on behalf of the Federal government. And more than 800 people in Rochester have taken part in University studies of vaccines against HIV, giving the area one of the highest rates of participation in the world for such studies.

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