Mobile memory research unit will help Tampa Bay Alzheimer's patients

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 17:54:48-04

We are remembering legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt, who passed away after battling early onset dementia referred to as Alzheimer’s type.


This tragedy happened just hours before USF Health’s Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute unveiled the new way they’re helping Alzheimer’s patients in our area. 


The FDA hasn’t approved a new Alzheimer’s drug in a decade because it’s so tough to get patients in for clinical trials. Now the doctors and medicine can travel to you, free of charge. 


“There are a lot of things I used to do I can’t do anymore,” said Bill Nagley, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. 


For about seven years, Nagley has felt the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Often, his short-term memory fails him. 


“It frustrates me, makes me mad,” he said.


He travels an hour from home every month to participate in a clinical trial. Now, the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute’s mobile center will bring experimental drugs and doctors to the people who need them.


“You have access to a medication that changes your disease and these people are going to pay for all of it. You just have to show up and it was so hard to get people to show up because they were having to come from such great distances,” said Jill Smith, assistant director of clinical research at USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. 


In the 53-foot facility, doctors can do everything from memory evaluation and EKG’s to giving out the trial medicine. The plan is to travel within a 90-mile radius of Tampa and stay in different locations for up to three days. Research gathered could lead to a cure. 


“That’s my hope that they’re going to find something, and I personally hope they find something that’s not too late for Bill,” said Sheila Nagley, Bill’s wife and caretaker.


Normally it can take two or three years to get Alzheimer’s patients enrolled in a clinical trial. The goal here is to cut that time by at least half, seeing up to eight patients a day. 


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