EMERGE drug trial takes aim at early Alzheimer’s Disease.
EMERGE drug trial takes aim at early Alzheimer’s Disease.

When Vicki Bukovick was advised that she would be a good candidate for a drug trial that could improve her symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), she jumped at the opportunity. It had been two years since the 66-year-old from Las Vegas had first sought treatment for memory loss at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

“When a diagnosis like AD happens to you, you’re grasping for anything that can help,” she says.

By participating in the worldwide EMERGE treatment trial at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Bukovick is helping researchers learn whether a promising new drug therapy can slow the progression of symptoms in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, including declining memory and cognitive skills.

EMERGE is one of several clinical trials being conducted by drug manufacturer Biogen at medical centers around the world — including the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in both Las Vegas and at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus in Cleveland — to test the safety and efficacy of aducanumab (B11B037).

“We would like to find a treatment for AD that can slow its progression, and we are thrilled to be part of this important national study,” says Charles Bernick, MD, MPH, principal investigator on the EMERGE trial for the Las Vegas location.

Participants in the trial are men and women like Mrs. Bukovick who are 50 to 85 years old and experiencing mild cognitive impairment due to early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. To be eligible for the trial, participants must have scored a 0.5 on the Clinical Dementia Rating — a global scale developed to clinically indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s and stage its severity — and they must have a positive amyloid PET scan.

During the 78-week trial, participants receive monthly intravenous infusions of aducanumab. Investigators closely monitor participants’ health through interviews, physical exams and scans, measuring changes in their functional and cognitive impairment in order to evaluate the drug’s ability to slow the progression of AD.

Bukovick was the first patient enrolled in the study in Las Vegas. She has been receiving treatments since March.

“I initially wanted to enroll in the trial because, frankly, I was scared about what was happening to my memory,” she says. “But I’m relieved already. I’m really, really hopeful and anticipating more success with the treatment.”

Seeking Research Participants
The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is accepting enrollment in the EMERGE trial. The study is randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled, meaning some participants will receive the medication and some will not, and neither the participant nor the investigator will know.

For more information about the EMERGE trial, including enrollment, call 855.LOU.RUVO. For more information about the center’s other research studies, visit ClevelandClinic.org/BrainHealthTrials.

Photo: Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Vicki Bukovick with Research Coordinator Monica Guerra at Cleveland Clinic.

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