ALBANY, N.Y., October 9, 2006—The Albany Medical Center announced today that it is participating in a national research study to determine whether a herb used for years by the Chinese to relieve fevers and inflammation is safe and effective when used to improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health and Neuro-Hitech Pharmaceuticals Inc., the study of huperzine A is seeking to enroll individuals 55 or older with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Albany Med hopes to recruit at least 10 participants from the region.
Huperzine A is derived from the Chinese club moss plant Huperzia serrata and acts as a cholinesterase inhibitor, which stops the breakdown of cells that carry memory and thought processes. Supporters say it is easily tolerated in the body and more effective in combating neurological deterioration. While the herb currently is sold as a supplement in health stores, there have been no controlled clinical trials in the United States to assess potential toxicity and efficacy. The phase II trial will determine whether huperzine A is effective enough for a larger, more definitive study.
“The goal of the study is to help find an Alzheimer’s treatment that significantly slows this devastating illness,” said Earl Zimmerman, M.D., clinical director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Albany Med, who is leading the study here. “We are hoping to prolong cognitive ability, independence, and dignity by intervening at a very early stage.”
To be eligible to participate, people must be age 55 or older, with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease; not have taken cholinesterase inhibitors (including Aricept, Reminyl, Exelon or Cognex) within two months of screening; and have an available study partner at home to remind the patient when to take medicine and assess their behavior. Participants will be seen by a doctor nine times during the six-month study period and three times in the subsequent six months.
Originally, the huperzine A study enrolled approximately 150 participants, but the NIH has expanded that number to 210 and widened the number of medical centers at which the study is conducted to 30. For more information about the huperzine A study, call the Alzheimer’s Center at 518-262-0800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center. It consists of Albany Medical College, Albany Medical Center Hospital and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. Additional information about Albany Medical Center can be found at www.amc.edu.
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