Alzheimer's Awareness - Making Progress Together

By: Marisa Sibley, CCRC

Originally published in the November/December 2017 Issue of Ellis County LIVING Magazine


I remember sitting in my undergraduate neuroscience class listening to my favorite professor explain the intricacies of the human brain. As the most complex organ in the human body, it produces our every thought, action, memory, feeling and experience of the world. It was ironic to even consider wrapping my mind around its complexity. As medicine and technology has advanced over time, we have been able to study more and more about certain areas of the brain, how they function, and how they affect other parts of the body. Yet, there is still a great amount of information about the brain that is unknown. We have questions that we do not yet have answers to, which can be frustrating for individuals and families that are affected by neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for the loss of cognitive abilities, like memory, that negatively impact an individual’s daily life. An estimated 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest risk factor for the disease is increasing age. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with symptoms of memory loss and the lack of ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. These symptoms worsen as time passes, which can be extremely frustrating for individuals and families that are affected.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most complex diseases clinical researchers have ever studied. Just as the brain is complicated, the disease is complicated. Current treatments for Alzheimer’s only help to slow the worsening of symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, and improve the quality of life for those with the disease and their family or caregivers. There are no current medicines that treat the underlying cause of the disease. However, clinical researchers are going boldly in their efforts, seeking to pinpoint what causes Alzheimer’s and working to develop better ways to not only treat the disease but to prevent it from developing.

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are estimated to cost the United States health care system over $259 billion by the end of 2017 with costs projected to increase into the trillions of dollars by 2050. The research industry is therefore racing to develop new treatments for the disease. PhRMA, an organization that supports the search for new treatments and cures for disease, reports that there are 87 potential new treatments in clinical trials regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are currently focusing on developing treatments that, for example, target the immune system to enable it to fight the disease or help to lower inflammation in the brain, which has been found to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  

 “For years, research has been focusing on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. We are on the edge of discovering the root cause of this terrible illness. Investing in research now will cost our nation far less than the cost of care for the rising number of Americans who will be affected by Alzheimer’s in the coming decades.” – Dr. Thomas Ledbetter, Medical Director at ClinPoint Trials

The number of new treatments being studied in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s will continue to rise as we learn more about the science of the disease. Since 1998, here have been 123 potential treatments halted in clinical trials while only four treatments were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Despite the frustration of these setbacks, the knowledge gained about the disease and about what treatments show promise versus those that don’t is critical to the advancement of medicine for Alzheimer’s.

 “The number of treatments in the research pipeline for Alzheimer’s alone is hope enough that there will one day be a cure for the disease. It is exciting to consider that our very own neighbors may soon be able to have an opportunity to take part in finding a cure by participating in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease.” – Sherry Johnson, BSN, Site Director and Research Nurse at ClinPoint Trials

It is crucial for all of us, as we all know individuals affected by Alzheimer’s, to keep watch of opportunities to participate in clinical trials for the disease. ClinPoint Trials hopes to provide these opportunities to participate in finding the cure for Alzheimer’s to individuals in the Ellis County and surrounding areas in the near future.


November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Visit www.alz.org and www.PhRMA.org to learn more.

Marisa is the Lead Clinical Research Coordinator at ClinPoint Trials, a clinical research site in Waxahachie. Learn more about ClinPoint and opportunities to participate in clinical trials at www.cptrials.com.

From the Lab to Your Medicine Cabinet

Understanding Clinical Trials and the Purpose in Participation

By: Marisa Sibley

Originally published in the May/June 2017 issue of Ellis County LIVING Magazine


When I was a child, I struggled with asthma. To help my condition, my doctor gave me an inhaler that contained a preventative asthma medication. It was easy to use and it helped make physical activities easier for me. I was able to play my favorite sports without fearing I wouldn't be able to breathe. This helped give me a better quality of life as a child. I no longer struggle with asthma, but I am thankful that there was a treatment available to help my condition. 

For me it was an asthma medication and in inhaler. For some it may be insulin or a blood sugar monitor. For others it may simply be an over the counter medication for a common cold or a headache. 

All medications of medical devices available for use by the general population are so only because of individuals who were first willing to volunteer to participate in clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are research studies that seek to answer questions about medical treatments, medical devices or medical strategies. All medical treatments and devices start as ideas. Those ideas are then developed and tested in the laboratory. If the research on these new developments is promising and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves further research testing, then the idea may move forward into clinical trials with human volunteers. 

All potential treatments and devices are tested first in Phase 1 trials, which will only assess whether or not the products are safe for human use. If the products show to be generally safe, then the treatments or devices will continue into Phase 2 and 3 trials with larger numbers of volunteers. These trials continue to answer questions about safety, but also begin to assess how well a product works to improve patient outcomes, if it will benefit a patient, or if the product causes unexpected harm. The FDA monitors and reviews the research data on investigational treatments and devices very closely during all phases of clinical trials and can stop the trials at any time. 

After all trials are completed, the FDA may or may not decide to approve a new treatment or device. Only after FDA approval will these ideas turned treatments end up in our medicine cabinets. Research then continues on these treatments or devices after they enter the marketplace. 

There are many reasons why people choose to participate in clinical trials The top reasons include to advance medicine, to help improve the lives of others, to help improve their own medical condition or to supplement their own standard health care. 

If you choose to join a clinical trial, you can expect to first be thoroughly informed about the study, what the study is testing, information about study appointments and procedures, potential risks and benefits, and your role as a participant.The study doctor, also called an Investigator, will assess whether or not you would be eligible to participate in the study. your eligibility may depend on your medical history, medications you are taking, or other diagnostic tests or exams. 

Throughout the course of your participation in a trial, you can expect your health to be monitored very closely by the Investigator and the study team. This is done through a series of visits to the clinical research site before, during and after a study treatment or device is received or used. Since you are a volunteer, your study-related care is provided free of charge. You may also receive compensation for your time and travel. 

Had no one ever participated in clinical trials for asthma, I may not have had access to a medication that helped my condition improve as a child. Clinical trials are the gateway to advancing medical knowledge and patient care for generations to come. Whether you are a healthy person or have a chronic medical condition, you can help to move medicine forward through participation in a clinical trial. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving. 

If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial in the future or would like more information, reach out to your local clinical research site to speak with a member of the study team about how you can get involved. 


Marisa is a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC) at ClinPoint Trials, a clinical research site in Waxahachie. Learn more at www.cptrials.com. You can reach her at (972) 937-1640 or marisas@cptrials.com for more information.

Holiday Highlight

The Christmas season is all about giving.

One of our favorite things about being a part of the Ellis County and Waxahachie community is the willingness of individuals and organizations to offer support to it's fellow neighbors.

Each year, ClinPoint selects a local organization or support service to assist with their missions. We were recently introduced to a local organization called Believing Restoration is Attainable (BRA). Their mission is to "support the ladies" by offering support services to women who are experiencing grief or trauma. These services range from recovery programs like GriefShare and DivorceCare to providing life skills training, professional counseling and transitional services to those that are in need of them. 

The organization hosts an annual holiday party for it's members and their children. Santa makes an appearance and those that attend enjoy a meal and community together. A couple of our staff members were able to attend the event and drop off some goodies for the members of the organization and their families. 

We appreciate this organization's service to the women of Ellis County and Waxahachie, and wish them the best in their vision and mission.

Learn more about Believing Restoration is Attainable here. Follow them on Facebook here

Pictured above:

Members of Believing Restoration is Attainable (BRA) with Sherry Johnson, ClinPoint Trials Owner and Site Director, and Kristen Johnson, Lead Medical Technologist.

Sherry Johnson and BRA Founder Sharon Verigan.