Groundbreaking AHEAD study recruiting participants ages 55 and older

Dr Carlsson
Cythia Carlsson, MD, MS

The AHEAD Study is a new research study examining whether intervening ahead of symptoms may prevent future memory loss and dementia. AHEAD is the first research study that aims to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by enrolling participants as young as 55 and using a tailored dosing approach.

The study looks at an investigational treatment aimed at delaying memory decline in people up to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Discovering a treatment that targets brain changes early means doctors may be able to one day prevent memory loss.

Dr. Carlsson, director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute and a UW Health geriatrician, is the principal investigator of the study location at UW‒Madison. “We know that changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease begin up to 20 years before a person notices symptoms, but until now, most clinical trials have included older patients who already have symptoms,” Carlsson said. “By inviting younger participants without symptoms, we hope to help individuals who are at higher risk ‒ such as people with family history ‒ get ahead of the disease with early intervention. We also want to reach diverse communities to learn more about why people of color may be at higher risk of cognitive decline.”

The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. Currently, 120,000 Wisconsinites 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Communities of color experience higher incidence of the disease than white communities, yet they remain underrepresented in clinical research.

The AHEAD Study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eisai Inc., a United States subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo, and seeks 1,165 participants from North America. The study has more than 100 study locations worldwide, including North America, Japan, Singapore, Australia and Europe. The stage 3 clinical trial is a four-year commitment for participants and includes screening visits, blood draws, cognitive testing, PET scans, MRI scans and physical exams.

Read more about AHEAD and how to enroll on the Wisconsin ADRC open studies page.

In the News:

The AHEAD study and Dr. Carlsson were featured on multiple news outlets, including:

UW to study experimental drug for Alzheimer’s in people without symptoms – Wisconsin State Journal, June 29, 2021

UW taking volutneers in trial for groundbreaking Alzheimer’s treatment – WKOW Channel 27, June 29, 2021

Participants needed for Alzheimer’s disease clinical trial with UW Madison – WMTV NBC15, June 29, 2021