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The A4 study – Alzheimer’s prevention

Karen Miller
The A4 study – Alzheimer’s prevention
Jean Rose (r) and her daughter Christine (Photo: Ernesto Arroyo)

As a paralegal and a certified nursing assistant, Jean Rose has taken more than her fair share of tests. But one particular set of tests she took recently she really wanted to ace. Rose, 65, participated in the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study — A4 for short. The A4 study is a landmark clinical trial to prevent memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease.

The first part of the evaluation to test her memory she thinks she passed with flying colors. “They ask you a lot of questions,” she explained, to test her memory. For instance, the evaluators read her a story and asked her questions about the content. She was instructed to count back from 100 by 2’s. They checked her heart and took blood and urine samples to make sure she is healthy.

What’s different about the A4 study is that the researchers are looking for people between the ages of 65 to 85 who have normal thinking and memory abilities.

According to Rose, there is no history of AD in her family. Yet, she sees it every day. As a certified nursing assistant she is the caretaker of patients with the disease and is witness to the damage it causes. “One can’t speak,” she said.

Rose said the Tuskegee Experiment in which black men were denied treatment that could potentially cure their disease did not prevent her participation. She looked beyond that. “[These experiments] are why we have advanced in medicine,” she explained.

Rose recently discovered that she does not qualify for the trial. Her PET scan — the final part of the evaluation — was negative. To qualify for the study, the participant must have normal memory but also some evidence of plaque in the brain. The scan is able to detect the existence of plaque, which is a precursor to the disease.

That’s good news. At least for now Rose seems free of AD. But it won’t discourage her from participating in another study on memory. “I like to help people,” she explained.

For more information on the A4 study, call 617-732-8085.