NIH announces new Alzheimer's studies

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One new study will try to ward off Alzheimer's symptoms among people who are cognitively healthy but have high levels of amyloid protein deposits in their brains — a warning sign for Alzheimer's.

The other three projects will test a blood-pressure drug, prazosin, for its effects on Alzheimer's-related agitation; explore the influence of exercise on cognitive decline; and assess a way to speed Alzheimer's drug trials by monitoring levels of cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma over time. 

The consortium will receive $11 million in 2013, and up to $55 million over five years for the new studies, the NIH announced.

Officials praised the efforts for exploring Alzheimer's treatments that might quell the disease before patients exhibit symptoms.

"I am particularly excited that this round of studies will use what we have learned by testing interventions pre-symptomatically, as early as we can in the development of the disease, where we now think the best hope lies for keeping Alzheimer's at bay," said Richard Hodes, director of the NIH's National Institute on Aging, in a statement.