An Attleboro man has become the first in the world to take part in groundbreaking Alzheimer's research.
"I'm very excited to be part of this study. Do I wish I wasn't going to get Alzheimer's? Yes. But I also know the treatment options are becoming greater and greater," said 63-year-old David Kalberer, who has been involved in Alzheimer's prevention research for two years now at Butler Hospital's Memory and Aging program. His family history, he knew, put him at risk.
"My father is in advanced stages of Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's almost 13 years ago. My mother passed four years after she was diagnosed," said Kalberer.
It was in the last few months he found out just how high his risk was, when a pet scan showed he had a buildup of amyloid plaques, believed to be responsible for this memory robbing disease. And that made him eligible to become the first in the world to have a chance to be infused with an investigational drug -- an antibody -- that researchers say is showing a lot of promise.
"We're testing a medicine that actually removes the plaques from the brain and we hope, if we start early, like in somebody like David, we can slow down the whole process," said Dr. Stephen Salloway, director of Butler Hospitals Aging and Memory Program. "The focus is really on intervening early. We think that changes occur in the brain over 10-20 years before the memory loss."
Kalberer's first transfusion took place on Sept. 17.
"It was a very long day. Again, that was mainly to see how my body would react to getting this infusion," said Kalberer, who said he did just fine. "I had my wife there with me. She is affectionately known as my study partner."
Kalberer will come in every two weeks for this infusion. He has a fifty percent chance of getting the actual medicine. He won't know until the end of the study. But, he is encouraged by all the movement in this field.
"It is fascinating the giant steps that are being taken," said Kalberer.
Butler Hospital continues to recruit for this research, known as the AHEAD Study, as well as other clinical trials.