Until several years ago, doctors treating Alzheimer’s reacted to the disease once it had already become unmanageable, focusing more on making life as easy as possible for those with the disease. Now, doctors are taking a new approach to prevent the disease once the first symptoms appear.
Robert and Gwen Redhead have been married for over 50 years. A few years ago, Robert—an accomplished pianist and music composer—began to realize he couldn’t remember parts of the music writing process, and was unable to compose.
After speaking to their doctor, they were referred to the Toronto Memory Program, which is currently holding clinical trials designed to prevent Alzheimer’s from progressing.
A PET scan revealed Robert was accumulating amyloid plaque (i.e. proteins that build up on a brain and cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s). He enrolled in a clinical trial at the Toronto Memory Program.
About a year after Robert noticed his memory loss, Gwen realized she was also having memory problems, specifically with her short-term memory. After a PET scan found that she too was accumulating amyloid plaque, she enrolled in a clinical trial as well.
Robert’s trial involves him going to the Toronto Memory Program once a month, where he receives an intravenous drug called Aducanumab. This drug is designed to stop the accumulation of amyloid plaque, and researchers are optimistic that it could even reduce it. Robert also undergoes cognitive testing, cardiograms, physical testing and an occasional MRI.
Gwen’s trial is less intensive than her husband’s; rather than an IV treatment, she takes her study drug in the form of a pill. She also goes through cognitive testing, cardiograms, physical testing and MRIs, just like Robert.
We caught up with Robert and Gwen to see how the trial is going. Take a look below.
For more information about the program, you can visit the Toronto Memory Program’s website.