Researchers at the University of Utah are looking for volunteers who have mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease to test a drug that may slow its associated decline.

The compound they're studying acts on beta amyloids, proteins that tend to deposit in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's, according to Edward Zamrini, associate professor of neurology at the U. School of Medicine. He's also clinical trials director at the Center for Alzheimer's Care, Imaging and Research, which is leading the Utah portion of the 40-center national study. The U. hopes to recruit at least 10 patients.

The plaque buildup can trigger inflammation in the brains of those with Alzheimer's. Amyloid beta protein collects in plaque deposits and can lead to damage to nerve cells. Existing treatment focuses on improving symptoms, rather than going after root causes.

The trial drug stops the amyloid beta from binding to a receptor in the brain. The goal of the study, which lasts for 18 months, is to see if the study treatment drug slows or stops disease progress.

Participants must have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. At the mild to moderate stage that's being sought, an individual has difficulty with everyday tasks and is forgetful but has a fairly broad skill set.

Other than the Alzheimer's, a participant must be generally healthy. The drug is being tested at two doses so an individual has a two-in-three chance of getting the study medication as opposed to placebo, Zamrini said. People can continue with their other medications.

Doctors and nurses monitor the patients during regular visits and measure the disease progression based on function and cognitive abilities. They don't know who's getting study medication and who's getting placebo.

Anyone interested in participating or wanting to know more can call Rebecca Mesley, 801-581-4944. There's information on this and other memory studies, as well, online at You can also register online.

E-mail: [email protected]