It’s difficult news to hear.

“Nobody works and plans their whole life to have Alzheimer’s disease,” said Sharon Rotenberry, Alzheimer’s Association WV Chapter, executive director. 

You can’t plan for it, and there’s no cure.

“No one goes into the doctor’s office, gets diagnosed, knows when they’re going to be treated, knows how long it’s going to take, knows the possibility of survival,” Rotenberry said. 

But there’s hope.  

WVU’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute is the first in the world to participate in phase II of a new clinical trial using ultrasound technology.

“Our hope is that we learn more about how we can reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s, reduce the plaques in the brain that are implicating Alzheimer’s and hopefully reduce the cognitive and memory decline,” Dr. Ali Rezai, WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, director.

The trial will in part work to open the blood brain barrier, which protects the brain from the bloodstream. Opening the barrier safely will allow medications to get inside to help improve outcomes. 

“So we think this is a very amazing technology that will open up possibilities for patients not only for Alzheimer’s but also we’re exploring it’s use for opioid addiction and also for severe brain tumors,” Rezai said. 

The Mountain State is facing an opioid crisis, but the aging population could also add to the state’s financial problems.

“Start adding up the numbers, West Virginia is the third oldest population in the country. That’s a big impact and it’s coming. We are very much in the midst of an opioid crisis but this is another crisis out there that’s coming,” Rezai said. 

And while Alzheimer’s disease is still surrounded by a number of unknowns, studies like those at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute provide a sense of hope.

“It doesn’t matter where you live in the state, to know that that kind of research is happening at both ends of the state. We’re very excited for WVU.”

To learn more about the trial call 304-293-5150.