RIH announces clinical trial of a new approach to combat Alzheimer’s Disease

March 22, 2017

Investigators at Rhode Island Hospital are now recruiting volunteers for national multicenter clinical trial of a new and highly innovative approach treating people with early Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This immunotherapy (antibody drug) against the tau protein that builds up in the cells of people with AD is produced by AbbVie, a global pharmaceutical company.

Before AD symptoms appear, two proteins called tau and amyloid are accumulating in the brains of people with AD. When tau and amyloid build up, together they can interfere with how the brain normally works and may cause problems with memory and thinking. ABBV-8E12 is an immunotherapy that attaches to the tau protein and tries to prevent it from spreading throughout the brain and collecting in brain cells.

Amyloid in the brain can been seen by using a special type of brain scan called an amyloid Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. Only people with higher levels of amyloid plaques on their PET scan will qualify to participate in this study. The amount of tau protein in the brain is estimated by testing the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord (spinal fluid, also called CSF). In this study ABBV-8E12 will be given intravenously about once a month and 3 out of every 4 people will get ABBV-8E12. People who do not receive the study medicine will get a placebo (salt water). This study will last for about 24 months. Every person joining this study must have a study partner who is able to come to some of the study visits.

According to Dr. Brian Ott, principal investigator at Rhode Island Hospital, “Because changes in tau are more closely related to the degeneration of nerve cells as well as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, we are hopeful that this will be a successful approach to controlling the disease. Among investigational drugs currently under study for AD, ABBV-8E12 is unique in that it does not aim to reduce amyloid protein buildup in the brain, but is the first immunotherapy to target tau protein.” Interested volunteers should contact Dr. Ott or Dr. Lori Daiello at the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at 1-844-5MEMORY or by email, memory@lifespan.org.

Media Contact

Christina Spaight O'Reilly

Rhode Island Hospital