Abigail’s story: cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome research

Staff at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are recruiting participants for a study into whether a new drug can slow down the rate of cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome.

Abigail’s story: cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome research

Clinical Research Nurse Abigail Stewart explains what is involved in the ABATE study and what motivates her to work in research.

Talk to your healthcare professional about taking part in research or search for studies seeking volunteers and sign up to be contacted about studies at Be Part of Research.

What is this research study about?

The ABATE study is looking at whether a new drug, ACI-24.060, may be able to slow down cognitive decline in people with Down’s syndrome and prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. The prodromal stage of Alzheimer’s disease is also referred to as mild cognitive impairment.

Cognitive decline is thought to be associated with a build-up of amyloid protein in the brain, which causes brain cells to die. ACI-24.060 is designed to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against amyloid to hopefully reduce the rate of cognitive decline. The main objectives of the study are to find out whether ACI-24.060 is safe and well tolerated, whether it produces an immune response in the recipient and how it works inside the body.

What does taking part involve?

Participants who take part in ABATE undertake an 11-month treatment period and have a 6-month follow-up. Volunteers come to the Warneford Hospital in Oxford to have regular physical and neurological examinations. They are also asked to undertake cognitive assessments and tasks.

Participants have regular intra-muscular injections, blood samples taken and multiple scans including an electrocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging and a positron emission tomography scan which shows the metabolic and biochemical function of the organs.

Participants are also asked to have a lumbar puncture so that cerebrospinal fluid can be taken from the spinal cord to measure the amount of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. We also look for other proteins of interest, for example, those that indicate the presence of inflammation.

Taking part in the study is a big time commitment but participants can find the high level of engagement with research professionals reassuring.

What motivates you to work in research?

I have been fascinated by research and the phenomenal impact it can have on people’s lives since first studying the chemistry of drug development when I was 16 years old. As a trained nurse, I have witnessed the devastating impact that disease can have. It is both a passion and a privilege of mine to be able to work to fight against the impact of disease in whatever way that I can. With a background as a research scientist prior to nursing, working in clinical research delivery is the perfect combination of my scientific and nursing skills and interests.

What would you say to people about considering whether to take part in research?

Taking part in research can have both a physical and an emotional cost to the participant so you should always consider the impact that the requirements of a particular study may have upon you. Research provides an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than ourselves, to be part of fighting back against suffering from diseases and to make a lasting impact on future generations.

Read more about the ABATE study on the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust website.

Talk to your healthcare professional about taking part in research or search for studies seeking volunteers and sign up to be contacted about studies at Be Part of Research.

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Published: 19 September 2023