Medicine Seeks Participants for Free Study Concerning Two Memory Loss/Confusion Illnesses Connected to Aging
March 26, 2008

Richard L. Cameron
(478) 301-5500

MACON, Ga. —No family is immune from the possibility of dealing with age-related, memory-loss and/or confusion illnesses. Two of the more prominent are Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia. Because of the aging of the population, particularly Baby Boomers, and the fact that people are living longer, these diseases are expected to triple in prevalence over the next 40 years. And Middle Georgia may experience an even greater rate of increase since Georgia ranks in the 3rd and 4th deciles of elderly influx among the 50 U.S. states.

The Mercer University School of Medicine is conducting a research study, free to those who are chosen to participate, to slow down or possibly reverse the progression of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia. To qualify for the free study, the patient must have a sleep disturbance and either Parkinson’s Disease Dementia or Lewy Body Dementia.  In addition to no cost for participants in the study, the patients will receive free medical evaluations and medication.

“Currently, there are no treatments available to slow or reverse the inexorable progression of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia, diseases which affect about 750 Middle Georgians” said Edward C. Lauterbach, MD, FANPA, DFAPA, Director of the Mercer Neurodegenerative Disease Program. “It’s as though we have been treating headaches caused by a brain tumor with aspirin, rather than treating the tumor causing the headache.”

“Fortunately, our knowledge of the underlying biological processes that drive these illnesses is leading to therapeutic strategies that work in test tubes, but now need to be applied in our patients,” Lauterbach said. “We are finally on the cusp of developing treatments that will actually reverse the disease process rather than just treating its symptoms. Without such treatments, population demographics alone will push the prevalence of these two diseases to affect 2,250 Middle Georgians by the year 2050.”

Sleep disturbances in these diseases include daytime napping, night-time insomnia, or a disturbing condition of acting out dreams and nightmares called REM Behavior Disorder.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia is recognized by cognitive impairments in
patients with Parkinson’s Disease. These impairments may include concentrating, maintaining train of thought, solving complex problems, remembering, and processing visual information. Features of Lewy Body Dementia may also be present.

Lewy Body Dementia is under-diagnosed and is generally recognized by fluctuating periods of confusion during the day that may last minutes to hours and episodes of visual hallucinations of people or animals present in the home. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are sometimes apparent.

The Mercer study seeks to establish a slowing or reversal of disease progression and document improvements in cognitive impairments, confusional episodes, functional disability, and other disorders including insomnia, sleepiness, sleep-related behaviors, hallucinations, depression and anxiety.

To be considered for the study, call Mercer University at (478) 301-2107.

Media who may be interested in an interview with the physicians who will be conducting the study may contact: Richard L. Cameron, (478) 301-5500 or cameron_rl@mercer.edu.

About Mercer University School of Medicine:
Celebrating its 25th year, Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. The School only accepts Georgia residents into its medical degree program. Students entering Mercer University School of Medicine will be graduated from a school that utilizes a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. In June 2007, the University announced it would expand its two-year clinical program at Memorial University Medical Center into a second full, four-year doctor of medicine program by fall 2008. The School also offers master’s degrees in public health, family therapy, and nurse anesthesia.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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