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New drug trial offers hope for Alzheimer's patients in Las Vegas

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Updated: 9/12/2013 4:11 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- A groundbreaking study being conducted right here in Las Vegas could be the answer to treating people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study started in July with doctors putting new use to an old drug.

Warren Muller has been married to his wife Pat for 60 years. He says about five years ago she started experiencing symptoms similar to those found in people with Alzheimer’s.

“It does frustrate her because she knows that she’s not remembering things,” Muller said.

As her primary caregiver—he accompanied her here to the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, she’s now one of a few patients taking part in a landmark study that may be the answer to treating people with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Jeffrey Cummings leads the study

In Alzheimer’s disease there’s a protein that accumulates in the brain that we think is toxic to the nerve cells and the way this drug works is to eliminate this protein from the brain.

The drug is called bexarotene—its approved to treat skin cancer—and for the first time doctors here are trying it in patients with Alzheimer’s this after they say it dramatically improved cognitive impairments in test mice used to screen all Alzheimer’s drugs.

According to Dr. Cumming’s there are 28,000 Nevadans living with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently seven patients are taking part in this trial, with some of them taking a placebo, others taking one capsule of bexarotene twice a day for two months

Of the seven patients who have been in the trial, three of them have reported a better performance while receiving either the drug or placebo but of course we don’t know whether the drug or the placebo.

Before the trial, patients undergo a series of blood tests and brain scans to ensure they’re healthy enough to participate. They then do another brain scan at the end of the trial to determine if the drug helped improve their condition.

This can help not only families here Las Vegas and Nevada, it can help families worldwide

For Warren and his wife Pat, that's all they can hope for.

Dr. Cummings says they are looking for more participants for the study. Interested people with Alzheimer’s can call the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at (702) 483-6000.

-- Venise Toussaint, KSNV News 3

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