A few years ago, Julie began to worry about her memory. Names didn’t come as quickly. She had to work out on paper calculations she once figured out in her head, and her reading glasses seemed to have grown legs and started wandering about the house. At her annual physical, Doctor Thomas reassured her, saying that these are just the effects of aging. “I seriously doubt this is anything to worry about. You’re selling real estate, chairing the YMCA board and still medaling in masters swimming!”
Doctor Thomas was right. Julie was in good shape, working and enjoying life with her friends. Sixty-seven years old, she expected to live well into her 80s. Her concern though wasn’t how long she would live, but how well.
Even more worrying than her memory problems were the things she couldn’t forget. Her mother, a woman just like her, had memory problems. She lived her last decade disabled, sometimes angry, ultimately settled into the life of a person with dementia. Julie cared for her even though, as a single mother, she was busy raising her three teenaged children.
Julie decided to turn her worries into action. She decided to see if she could enroll in the Anti-Amyloid in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Study, or A4 Study. This international clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and Lilly is discovering whether a drug called solanezumab can slow the cognitive decline in persons at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A4 is among a new wave of studies testing out novel ways to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease. To enroll, Julie had to be cognitively unimpaired, generally healthy and willing to learn the results of a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that measures amyloid.
The scan uses a radiotracer that clings to amyloid plaques.