Gift from Fremont Alzheimer’s group benefits promising research at UNMC

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Omaha, Neb. – A $25,000 gift from the Fremont (Neb.) Area Alzheimer’s Committee will strengthen the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) efforts to successfully recruit individuals to participate in national clinical trials that focus on new drug treatments to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease or slow its progression.

UNMC, which is in the beginning stages of launching three new Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials in Nebraska, will join sites from across the United States to complete these clinical trials. The next closest sites for these studies are Kansas City and Iowa City.

These trials are funded by the National Institutes of Health, Eli Lilly & Company and Toyama Chemical Company.

The Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Committee’s gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation supports the efforts of the research staff at UNMC to initiate these studies, including recruitment of participants.

The gift also supports UNMC’s development of a registry of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as healthy aging individuals who are interested in research. This registry will be a vital resource to help recruit patients for future Alzheimer’s disease clinical studies and studies focused on aging and brain health.

Support for Alzheimer’s research at UNMC is a priority of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities which ends Dec. 31.

Daniel Murman, M.D., will lead the three clinical trials at UNMC and start the registry. He is a professor in the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences and the director of the Memory Disorders & Behavioral Neurology Program.

He said, “The Fremont Area Alzheimer group’s support is critical to helping UNMC get these clinical trials off the ground and will facilitate future Alzheimer’s disease research focused on finding effective disease modifying therapies.

“While the NIH and pharmaceutical companies are providing support for the national studies and for participants once they are involved, private funding, such as this gift, benefits us by funding start-up and recruitment activities. This enhances UNMC’s ability to build and maintain the infrastructure needed for Alzheimer’s disease research now and in the future.”

Dr. Murman praised the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Committee and the Fremont community for its extraordinary support in moving the promising research forward.

“Too many individuals suffer from the devastation of Alzheimer’s,” he said. “Our hope, through these efforts, is to lessen its impact on patients and families.”

Marv Welstead knows personally the suffering Alzheimer’s can cause. He lost his wife, Jean, nearly five years ago after an eight-year struggle with the disease.

He is a member of the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Committee, which holds an annual walk event to raise support for Alzheimer’s research and for caregiver education. This year’s Memory Walk will be Sept. 13 at Midlands University in Fremont.

Welstead, who received the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce Compass Leadership Award earlier this month, said when committee members considered a gift to support the Alzheimer’s research efforts of Dr. Murman and UNMC, they felt these studies were “headed in the right direction.”

“With the clinical trials and the medicines involved, we see great promise in the possibility of delaying the progress of Alzheimer’s in an individual, if caught early enough,” he said. “My hope is that someday an Alzheimer’s patient will take medications to manage the disease just as a heart patient does today.”

Welstead said he has tremendous confidence in Dr. Murman and his colleague Matthew Rizzo, M.D., the Frances and Edgar Reynolds Professor and Chair of the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences.

“Through their efforts and by leveraging the support of the NIH and pharmaceutical companies through these studies, we think the unbelievable may be attained,” he said. “I’m so pleased our group in Fremont can help.”

For more information about participating in the Alzheimer’s clinical trials at UNMC, please call 402-552-6233.

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