The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically impacted current medical research. It has caused cancellation or postponement of many clinical trials due to the possibility that research subjects might become infected and spread the disease. While many researchers have been unwilling to reopen these projects, the UCI Institute of Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders plans to continue its research on Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Joshua Grill, the institute’s director, has voiced the difficulty of continuing research trials amidst the pandemic. Alzheimer’s disease cripples the brains of older adults, slowly rendering them incapable of basic tasks. A disease like this does not simply stop during the pandemic, and Grill is determined to research potential cures as he predicts Alzheimer’s will only get worse over time.
Known as the AHEAD study, Grill’s project will test a potential drug treatment for Alzheimer’s and uses brain scans to measure its effectiveness. Research participants are at risk for serious health complications of the coronavirus due to their age. Thus, UCI has implemented strict safety precautions to prevent staff and participant exposure. No participants have been infected so far, proving the effectiveness of these measures. Still, some participants have left the study due to the infection risk, and this has only compounded existing difficulties for the recruitment of minority participants. As other studies are dealing with similar issues, others outside of the project suggest supporting minority communities with basic resources to encourage participation in research. Given these struggles, Grill is still optimistic that the research trial will be safe and successful for its participants.
Hamilton, Jon. “A Big Alzheimer's Drug Study Is Proceeding Cautiously Despite The Pandemic.” NPR, NPR, 20 Oct. 2020, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/10/20/925493843/a-big-alzheimers-drug-study-is-proceeding-cautiously-despite-the-pandemic.