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Study Seeks to Prove Anti-Arthritis Drugs May Block Alzheimer's

Rochester, NY – A study beginning today in Rochester and three other cities will try to prove if two commonly used drugs can prevent Alzheimer'sDisease. Doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Monroe Community Hospital are joining in the first large-scale study aimed atpreventing Alzheimer's. They're looking for 800 healthy volunteers age 70 and older, who have a relative with Alzheimer's but don't have the disease themselves. They'll be given either a placebo, or one of two drugs commonly used to treat arthritis. The drugs are naproxen sodium, commonly sold as Aleve, and celecoxib, commonly called Celebrex. Both drugs reduce swelling in the body, and researchers believe they can reduce swelling in the brain associated with Alzheimer's. Doctor Pierre Tariot from the University of Rochester Medical School is principal investigator for the study. He says the study builds on the discovery that inflammation inside the brain is a key factor in developing Alzheimer's. Pioneering work at the University of Rochester identified the enzymes which trigger tissue inflammation in the body, called Cox-1 and Cox-2. That led to drugs called "Cox inhibitors" for treatment of arthritis and similar diseases. Doctor Tariot says doctors have noticed in many other studies that people being treated for athritis with Cox inhibitors seem to getAlzheimer's about half as often as the general population. The study now beginning in Rochester, Boston, Baltimore and Sun City, Arizona will try to prove that these drugs can head off Alzheimer's. If it works, Doctor Tariot says it would be fantastic news for America's 75-million baby boomers, who begin turning 65 in ten years. Alzheimer's symptoms typically show up in about ten percent of the population at age 65, and in up to half the population by age 85. It's the most common form of dementia associated with aging, causing both loss of memory and of cognitive ability. People already being treated for arthritis aren't elegible for the study. Those who volunteer will be asked to pass a medical screening. Thenthey'll be asked to take two pills a day. Their mental capacity will betested regularly. All will be under rigorous health monitoring to see if thedrugs have long-term side effects. The National Institute on Aging is funding the study with a 25-milliondollar grant.