Anti-inflammatory Medications Being Tested For Possible Prevention Of Alzheimers Disease

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine
January 29th, 2001

Contact: Gina M. Digravio, 617-638-8491 |

(Boston, Mass.) — — Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine today launched the first-of-its-kind drug prevention study for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-inflammatory Prevention Trial (ADAPT) is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded clinical trial that will test the use of anti-inflammatory medication for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers believe that inflammatory processes in the brain may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The ADAPT study is designed to test naproxen and celecoxib, two drugs used to treat arthritis, for their ability to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. These medications reduce inflammation in joints and other parts of the body. They may also reduce inflammatory processes in the brain, believed by some scientists to be part of the disease process in Alzheimer’s.

“Retrospective studies of anti-inflammatory medications for the treatment of arthritis and other illnesses indicated a reduced occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease among the participants taking these medicines. The Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-inflammatory Prevention Trial will help us find out whether anti-inflammatory medications can really prevent, or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Boston site director of the ADAPT study and clinical director of Boston University’s NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “Since these medications can have serious side effects and since it is not yet known whether they work for Alzheimer’s disease or not, no one should take them for this purpose outside of the clinical trial.”

At a luncheon hosted by BUSM announcing the study’s launch, Representative Edward J. Markey, who has formed a bi-partisan task force on Alzheimer’s disease discussed the obstacles that family members face while caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and the need for increased funding and research. “We must assure that the next generation is not beset by this epidemic,” said Markey.

AD strikes 6% of people over age 65 and at least 30% of those over age 85. In all, between 2.5 million and 4 million Americans are afflicted. It is estimated that without a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, up to 10 million Americans will have it in the year 2050.

Boston University School of Medicine is one of several institutions participating in this important study including Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, Sun Health Research Institute, Phoenix, AZ and the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. The study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the NIH.

Study participants must be 70 years or older by the close of the study’s enrollment period in 2002 and have a mother, father, sister, or brother who has (or had) serious age-related memory loss, dementia, senility, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants cannot, themselves, have been diagnosed with dementia, senility, or Alzheimer’s disease. Participants will be asked to take a prescribed dose of naproxin, celecoxib, or a placebo (sugar pill) twice a day for 5 to 7 years. They will meet with a study team member three times the first year, and twice yearly after that for medical evaluation. They will also be interviewed twice a year by telephone. “Because there are known risks – some serious – with the use of anti-inflammatory medicines, it is important that people taking them have close medical supervision and monitoring. Participating in a controlled clinical trial like ADAPT is an excellent way to receive such clinical monitoring,” said Sanford Auerbach, MD, co-director of the Boston site and a member of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. The study medication and all medical evaluations will be provided free of charge. Individuals interested in learning more about ADAPT are asked to call (617) 638-5425 or toll free at 1-866-2-STOP-AD (1-866-278-6723).

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