Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, affecting more than 5 million Americans. At the current pace and without an obvious cure or medical breakthrough on the horizon, the number of Americans diagnosed with AD will triple to almost 13.8 million by 2050. At the University of Colorado Alzheimer's and Cognition Center, we combine innovative laboratory and clinical research with world-class clinical care in our efforts to help improve the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.
Laboratory research is research conducted in a controlled environment (laboratory), where scientists can look at tissues and cells under a microscope to learn about cell behavior and genetic differences, test proteins to identify potential treatments, and use animals to mimic diseases, such as Alzheimer's, to test treatment response before testing them in humans. Laboratory research is vital to understanding Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, and finding better ways to prevent and treat them. When a promising treatment is found in laboratory research both in cells and in animal models, the next step is testing the treatment in a clinical trial.
Clinical trials involve an intervention, where researchers are studying something, such as a drug or a device, that could produce a potential change in the way a disease or medical condition is detected, prevented, managed, or treated. The intervention can be brand new, or it could be something that has been used before to treat other diseases but may now be able to used for a different disease. The purpose of clinical trials are to study the 1. safety of the intervention, and 2. the efficacy, or effectiveness, of the intervention. Clinical trials go through multiple phases before the intervention is determined to be able to be made available to the public.
Watch this video to hear Dr. Potter discuss one of the drugs currently in development at the CU Alzheimer's and Cognition Center that is in the clinical trial process.