WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Every month, Marylee and Ralph Williams travel from Greensboro to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with the hope that the hour they spend there will help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
The couple is part of the A-4 study, a nationwide clinical trial that hopes to use a treatment for Alzheimer’s on people who show no signs of the disease but do test positive for plaque buildup in the brain. That plaque, known as amyloid, is seen as a major risk factor for mental deterioration.
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist are still looking for about 20 people to join the clinical trial.
For the Williams, they’ll partake in a 45-minute infusion monthly for three years if it helps determine a cure for the disease. There’s also comfort in knowing more about the potential for Alzheimer’s than they did before.
“There’s no guarantee you’re getting the drug,” said Marylee Williams. “It’s a blind study but regardless of how it turns out, whether we’re getting the drug or not getting it, we’re armed with the information which is the valuable thing.”
Williams said her husband has a family history of Alzheimer’s.
“I would rather them tell me I wasn’t eligible, that I didn’t have any plaque in my brain but I suspected I did,” said Ralph Williams.
Rather than waiting to see if he develops the disease as well though, Ralph said he’s happy knowing the results of this clinical trial could help researchers determine how effective the anti-amyloid antibody can be when/if it’s used as a preventative medicine.
“My mother didn’t know who she was or where she was the last 12 years of her life,” said Ralph. “We have two sons. We would not want them to be burdened with taking care of us if we didn’t who they are if they couldn’t communicate with us.”
The Williams are the first couple from the Triad who have qualified for the clinical trial. Dr. Kaycee Sink, an associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said there have been other participants willing to come in from other parts of North Carolina and Virginia to participate.
Sink said participants have to have the right mindset to help in the study.
“It’s not like I’m telling someone they have Alzheimer’s or cancer it’s just that you’re at an increased risk just like if you have high cholesterol means you’re at an increased risk for a heart attack,” said Sink.
If you’re interested in learning if you qualify to take part in the A4 study through Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center call Patricia Wittmer at (336) 713-8243 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.