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.

Hitting the Mark in Migraines

By: Marisa Sibley, CCRC

Originally published in the July/August 2017 Issue of Ellis County Living Magazine


I met Laura for the first time in the summer of 2015. She came to my office for her first visit as a volunteer for a clinical research study for migraine headaches. “How are you today?” I asked. “Not great,” she said. “I’ve had a migraine for three days. None of the medications I have used have helped my pain.” As we continued to discuss her condition, she informed me that she experienced a migraine headache nearly 20 days each month. Her condition was debilitating. It hindered her ability to work, to enjoy quality time with her family, and to perform normal, day-to-day tasks.

Laura was far from alone. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches, with three times as many women experiencing symptoms than men. Migraine headaches are more severe than typical headaches. Besides being associated with costly healthcare, the condition also takes an economic toll, costing the U.S. an estimated $13 billion annually. During a migraine attack, an individual experiences pain that throbs or pulses, usually on one side of the head. They typically cause individuals to have sensitivities to lights and sounds, and may even cause blocked vision or dizziness. In addition to the pain, moderate to severe nausea and vomiting are common.  

There are several different over the counter and prescription medications that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by individuals with migraines. These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), triptans, or other non-migraine treatments. Despite their common use, these treatments are only designed to treat pain after symptoms of a migraine start.

Investigational new treatments that block calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a protein found in the body to be in high levels during inflammation, are making their way towards likely FDA approval for the treatment of migraine headaches. Treatments of this class are being developed to stop migraines before symptoms start. In clinical trials, these treatments have shown to have positive safety profiles and be effective in reducing the number of days each month an individual experiences a migraine headache.

At ClinPoint Trials, we were able to work with Eli Lilly and Company and patient volunteers from the community on a clinical trial for a treatment called galcunezumab, a CGRP antibody developed to prevent migraine headaches. In a recent press release, Eli Lilly revealed positive results in Phase 3 clinical trials for patients who experienced migraine headaches. These studies compared galcunezumab to placebo, an inactive substance. While the treatment did not completely stop patients from experiencing migraines, those that received it did experience significantly fewer headaches per month compared to patients that received placebo.

“Migraine prevention will be significantly improved with the emergence of treatments such as galcunezumab,” says Dr. Thomas Ledbetter, Principal Investigator at ClinPoint Trials. “While we were blinded to what treatment group the patients were assigned, we had several patients in this study who were so excited to have their migraines finally under control after years of suffering using traditional therapies.”

There is indeed hope for people like Laura that live with migraine headaches and cannot find a treatment that works for them. While it may be a few more years before we see new treatments for migraine headaches receive FDA approval and hit the market for use, we can hold onto hope that we are on the edge of a breakthrough.

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.

Osteoarthritis of the Hip or Knee (Closed)

This study is now enrolling participants. More information coming soon. If you would like to see if you qualify to participate in this study, please click the button below to contact us or call our Study Coordinator at (972) 937-1640.

Type 2 Diabetes (Closed)

ClinPoint Trials is seeking adults who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes for a clinical research study. 

You may be eligible for this study if you are currently taking Metformin. 

Throughout the course of the study, your health will be monitored by the study team and the study doctor. Qualified participants will receive study-related physical exams, lab tests, and investigational study medication or placebo at no cost.

Compensation may be provided for time and travel.

Contact us at (972) 937-1640 for more information.

Migraine Headaches (Closed)

Do you get migraines?

ClinPoint Trials is seeking individuals who get migraine headaches for a clinical research study. 

You may be eligible for this study if you are between the ages of 18 to 75 and have been diagnosed with migraine headaches for at least one year. 

Throughout the course of the study, your health will be monitored by the study team and the study doctor. Qualified participants will receive study-related physical exams, lab tests, and investigational study medication at no cost.

Compensation may be provided for time and travel.

Contact us at (972) 937-1640 for more information.