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TrialMatch to speed recruitment for AD trials.

An interactive telephone-and Web-based service now lets Alzheimer's patients, caregivers, and their physicians connect more easily with ongoing clinical trials.

The service--Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch--has the potential to greatly enrich the research into more effective treatment options and the ultimate goal of an Alzheimer's cure, William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical officer of the Alzheimer's Association, said at a press briefing. "Alzheimer's disease is clearly the No. 1 health challenge of the 21st century, and research is the only way to solve this problem," Dr. Thies said at the meeting in Honolulu. "TrialMatch provides a first-of-its-kind service in Alzheimer's by delivering a user-friendly and individualized guide to clinical trials."

Approximately 150 clinical studies for Alzheimer's and dementia are ongoing, but not enough patients volunteer for them, Dr. Reisa Sperling said in an interview. "At the rate we have people signing up now, it takes 12-18 months just to complete enrollment," said Dr. Sperling, director of clinical research at the memory disorders unit of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

Currently, there are 10 drugs in large-scale clinical trials and another 20 in pre-clinical studies. Even when patients do volunteer for trials, screening eliminates many candidates, she said. "For every patient we enroll, we typically need to screen three or four. TrialMatch will collect detailed information in a confidential way, online, and that will speed up the matching process considerably."

Interested parties can visit the TrialMatch Web site ( and identify themselves as a patient, caregiver, physician, researcher, or health volunteer. The program then matches the user to trials for which they may qualify. At any time, users can also call a toll-free number (800-272-3900) to speak with a volunteer who will walk them through the process.

The studies included on TrialMatch include large, industry-sponsored drug trials, natural history and imaging studies, federally funded trials, and smaller, investigator-initiated studies. All of them are important, Dr. Sperling noted.

Alzheimer's disease threatens to over-whelm the national health care scene in the next 50 years, when there could be 1 million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. "I'd like to take a page from the success some of my oncology colleagues have seen," Dr. Sperling said. "For example, as soon as 80% of children with certain pediatric tumors began enrolling in research, there were huge leaps forward in finding treatment. Finding answers is directly proportional to research."

Entering a clinical trial also is an important way for both physicians and patients to claim some power in a situation that can make them feel quite helpless, she added. "I hope this can change the landscape of thinking about what patients and doctors can do to be proactive about this disease. Instead of hiding from it, let's agree to fight it tooth and nail."

Dr. Eric Tangalos, codirector of education for the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minn., agreed. "TrialMatch is a wonderful innovation," he said in an interview. "As a primary care physician, I want my patients and families to run toward a diagnosis rather than away from it. Moreover, people who volunteer for research studies tend to do better than people who do not volunteer. There is not only the direct benefit of being engaged but [also] a social and societal advantage that plays out positively for the volunteer."

Disclosures: TrialMatch is funded by the Alzheimer's Association. Dr. Sperling and Dr. Tangalos had no relevant disclosures.

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Title Annotation:NEUROLOGY; Alzheimer's disease
Author:Sullivan, Michele G.
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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