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An estimated 36 million people worldwide live with dementia, but filling Alzheimer’s and dementia clinical trials is exceedingly difficult due to the stigma attached to the disease, transportation concerns, and objections to the clinical trial process.

Finding volunteers for clinical trials, who are in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, is especially difficult. Many individuals with mild cognitive impairment do not present the problem to their physicians. These individuals often go undiagnosed until the disease progresses to a more serious state. Many of those who have received a diagnosis in the early stages are not willing to accept the risks of the clinical trial, since their symptoms are not yet severe. 

Finding volunteers in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia poses its own problems. Caregivers are often charged with providing transportation and walking the individual through the process, which is burdensome to family members who are already overwhelmed with their duties. Also, many people only want to enroll in a clinical trial if they are sure they will receive the experimental drug. In order for a medical trial to be considered valid, researchers must measure the treatment against a placebo, meaning some participants will go through the complete trial without receiving the experimental treatment.

Read the full CNN article, When the Pieces of Memory are Scattered, about one participant with mild cognitive impairment enrolled in a recent clinical trial.

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