Recognizing Research Advances at the KU ADC During Alzheimer’s and Brain Disease Awareness Month

Dr. Jeff Burns and Dr. Russ Swerdlow, directors of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, are exploring a variety of interventions to prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s disease at the KU Clinical Research Center in Fairway, Kansas

Dr. Jeff Burns and Dr. Russ Swerdlow, directors of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, are exploring a variety of interventions to prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s disease at the KU Clinical Research Center in Fairway, Kansas.

Just about everyone knows someone who has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. These age-related conditions affect an estimated 5.6 million Americans, including 50,000 Kansans. Those numbers will grow because, according to the last U.S. Census, people 65 and older are the fastest growing population segment. And there is no cure for dementia – yet.

But National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month is a reassuring reminder that researchers at the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center (KU ADC) are working hard to change that.

The KU ADC is one of only 32 National Institutes of Health-designated Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the nation, and it’s at the forefront of cutting-edge research into treating dementia and the pursuit of a cure for the disease. KU ADC researchers are especially interested in how lifestyle factors, such as fitness and physical activity, produce energy for the brain and how that energy changes with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The center’s international and national reputation for forward-thinking research into treating and curing dementia helps attract the most recent clinical trials and opens up opportunities to test the newest medications and lifestyle interventions.  

In fact, the KU ADC currently has a dozen ongoing clinical research trials in innovation and discovery, treatment and prevention. For instance, the Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of Dapagliflozin in Alzheimer’s Disease, or DAPA, study is exploring whether shifting the body’s metabolism has any effect on the brain’s function. This single-site study was designed by KU ADC and funded by AstraZeneca, which produces dapagliflozin. The study is testing the effects of this drug on the brain’s energy levels and cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Dapagliflozin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for type 2 diabetes, but not for Alzheimer’s disease, and has not been tested as a drug therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers at KU ADC are dedicated to understanding dementia and ultimately solving it. But they can’t do it alone. Volunteers are a crucial element in the research process. Those interested in contributing to science and potentially making a difference in the lives of future generations by participating in clinical research trials may visit the KU ADC website for more information.