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$16 million helps further Alzheimer’s research

USF and five other universities will participate in a $16 million Alzheimer’s Disease research project. Mike Mullan, lead researcher for the prevention study, said USF was an obvious choice for the project.

“We have a very large population of individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s,” Mullan said Monday, referring to southwest Florida.

“Florida was an obvious choice, and USF has a memory disorder clinic so it made a lot of sense.” Mullan is also director of USF’s Roskamp Institute.

Six universities from around the country will conduct the research study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and coordinated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. The list of universities includes the University of Arizona, Boston University, the University of Rochester and the University of Washington, Mullan said.

Mullan said USF as a whole will be better for its role in the research study.

“When we get peer reviewed, this is an important comment about the quality of our research,” he said. “Research like this encourages other funding. (This will help the university) continue to bring in funding like this.”

The project will investigate whether pain relievers, such as Aleve, can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In other studies, medicines such as Aleve have shown to postpone memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s for two to three years. The study is the first placebo-controlled and double-blind one of its kind, and researchers will follow study subjects for several years.

Mullan said funding for the project has been approved for three years, but the study will most likely last much longer.

“It (funding) will probably be renewed,” he said.

“We have to follow a sufficient number of people. I suspect (the study) will last six years.”

In all, 2,700 participants will be involved in the study. Mullan said he hopes 700 of those will be from USF. Participants, Mullan said, should be healthy, at least 70 years old and must be biologically related to a parent, brother or sister who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or severe dementia.

Participants in the program will not receive payment but will also not be charged for the care and medication they receive.

In a news release distributed by the university, Mullan warned that taking drugs such as Aleve should not be used “in hopes of preserving brain function, because the drugs can have gastrointestinal side effects ranging from unpleasant to severe.”

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial at USF, call 974-3100.

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