East Syracuse research clinic finds new, virtual ways to continue Alzheimer’s clinical trials

Local News

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — COVID-19 is crushing clinical research globally, nationally, and right here in Central New York, but an East Syracuse clinic has found a way to keep some Alzheimer’s trials moving forward.

“You’re talking about people with an illness for which there’s no cure,” said Lisa Sonneborn, site director for Clarity Clinical Research.

The research center specializes in Alzheimer’s. Sonneborn says the studies they’ve had to put on hold are devastating to patients and their families.

“These individuals with terminal illnesses are unable to get access to those treatments,” she said.

The Alzheimer’s Association funds and leads the U.S. POINTER study, the world’s largest study examining lifestyle interventions and impacts on Alzheimer’s. That has also been put on pause.

Sonneborn’s biggest concern? “The potential cure we’re looking at might never become available.” But she’s determined not to let that happen.

Working with institutional review boards, they’ve reconfigured some studies so families can still have access to this essential research.

“Some of our studies are allowing about 90 percent of the visit to happen via telehealth,” said Sonneborn. “They’ll sit with you for an about an hour and talk about what medications you take, your medical history, and they’ll even talk about doing some type of preliminary memory screening.”

Some studies funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and National Institutes of Health are doing the same, virtually screening people and matching them to trials best suited for them.

“There is the option if someone is uncomfortable and doesn’t want to start they can be put in that holding pattern but at least we know they qualify,” said Sonneborn.

If you care for someone in the first few years of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and are interested in seeing if they qualify for a clinical trial, you can visit the Clarity Clinical Research website or call them at (315) 760-5905.


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