Northern Light Health is launching a statewide clinical trial to study the aging brain in pursuit of understanding Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive diseases associated with aging. Known as the MAINAH, the study will be open to any adults and seniors in Maine and its sponsors expect hundreds of participants.

Background

The State of Maine is the oldest in the nation and about 10% of seniors age 65 and over will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD), reports the Alzheimer’s Association. 5.8 million Americans nationwide have AD while 28,000 people in Maine struggle with AD. 99% of all clinical trials regarding Alzheimer’s have failed.  Congress is pouring funds into research. The NIH has increased from $400 million about five years ago to $2.3 billion currently and advocates are pushing for an increase to $2.8 billion.

The Study: A Registry

The Maine Initiative for Neurologic Aging & Health (MAINAH) is a statewide research study and registry in healthy brain aging, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and related disorders.  The registry will keep the patient population informed on the latest research and services in Maine related to brain and cognitive health. Enrollment will also give the patient an opportunity to participate in brain aging and related research. All costs associated with the registry study are covered by research grants and no patient’s insurance is charged. The investigators seek 30 minutes of participants time.

Study Sponsor

The study is sponsored by Northern Light Health. Northern Light Health is the most expansive integrated health care system in Maine. They provide care to people from Portland to Presque Isle and from Blue Hill to Greenville. They are comprised of nine member hospitals with 584 long-term beds, a single physician-led medical group, eight nursing homes, five emergency transport members, 37 primary care locations and they employ over 12,000 in Maine.

Partners include the Jackson Laboratory, University of Maine and the major hospital networks in the state.  Other research information at Northern Lights Acadia Hospital can be found here.

Study Goals

The research and registry, say sponsors, ultimately will exist to encourage patients to have healthy habits—from exercise, diet, sleep and the refraining form smoking—research shows this can help stave off cognitive diseases. Study participants will take an annual cognitive test, answer lifestyle surveys and establish a baseline to be tracked over time. The sponsors hope to develop a valuable pool of patient data –not to mentioned empowered patients that will take serious responsibility for their own health with the newfound understanding as to how healthy choices may have positive impacts on AD.

The Funding

The initial funding of this registry study is a $25,000 grant from Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.  The team is currently working on additional funding from the National Institutes of Aging. The hope is that a grant will come through for the second phase of the trial which will include 100 additional patients with high risk factors for AD—more rigorous testing such as brain imaging and gene sequencing would be included.

Lead Research/Investigator

Cindy Whited, RN 

Cliff Singer, MD 

Source: Central Maine

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