Rhode Island Hospital recruits for innovative Alzheimer’s clinical trial

Rhode Island Hospital is enrolling for an innovative Alzheimer’s clinical trial called the ExosomeAD study.

Exosomes are tiny structures found in cells throughout our body, that when looked at closely, seem to signal changes in the brain. What’s more is–if this all pans out–this could be a non-invasive, cost effective way to diagnose this memory robbing disease.

“These float all around the body, through the blood and the saliva,” said Dr. Jonathan Drake, the associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital.

He thinks these exosomes hold clues about what’s going on inside our brain. He said this all started with a small pilot study.

“Where we took people who had normal cognitive function and we compared them with, on the other end of the spectrum, Alzheimer’s disease,” said Drake.

They also included a group with mild cognitive impairment.

“And what we saw really that was intriguing was that the test was able to tell the difference between those three groups,” said Drake.

The National Institutes of Health was impressed too, now funding a larger study out of Rhode Island Hospital involving the collection of saliva and blood samples from participants and comparing the two.

“The brain-derived exosomes are at higher concentration in the saliva, so we’d hope to get a stronger signal than we would in the blood,” said Drake.

Along with saliva and blood samples, there will be cognitive testing for most participants.

“We are comparing what this test can show us in Alzheimer’s with what we see with people with other neurodegenerative things like frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body disease, dementia due to Parkinson’s and ALS or Lou Gehrig’s,” said Drake. “The study design is really strong to see can we pick up the signal on Alzheimer’s, can it tell us the difference between you know mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s in people who have earlier stages and can it tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.”

This five-year long study is recruiting people 65 and older.

They are looking for 150 people with normal memory and the rest with impaired cognition in varying degrees.

If you’re interested, call 401-444-0085.


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