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The Claude Wischik Interview (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Claude Wischik

Gary Barg: There’s actually a third track and that is what I would call selfishly altruistic, meaning that I can help my descendants, future generations of my family, by hastening a possible cure or therapy.

Claude Wischik: Yes, I agree with that. You know, from the early days when I used to collect brain tissue in Cambridge, I felt very embarrassed at having to ask relatives about consenting for the collection to study the disease. But I was overwhelmed by the essential altruism and generosity of people. I thought that maybe 30 percent or 40 percent would say “Yes.”& It turned out that more than 95 percent of people, when approached, said “Yes.” So there’s a deep sense of community and commonality of purpose that we all somehow benefit. I think there is that, and it’s not very far below the surface.

Gary Barg: Our readers experience firsthand the real life limitations of the current treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Do you have any prediction about the time horizon for the development of a truly effective treatment for Alzheimer’s?

Claude Wischik: If our Phase III confirms our Phase II, then we should have that data in 2015. And that means that a drug could be on the market by 2016. So that’s the timetable that we’re working to at the moment. We’re pretty confident that the result will be positive because we did a very big Phase II study on 321 subjects. And there we found that, at the optimum treatment dose, we achieved a 90 percent reduction in the rate of progression. So we’re pretty hopeful about our chances in Phase III.

So the good side of all of this is that there are a lot of people out there who are working hard to try and bring about help to patients and loved ones and the caregivers and so on. A lot of people have dedicated their lives to this. Let’s hope some of that produces some benefit.

Gary Barg: If you only had one most important piece of advice to impart to a family caregiver dealing with Alzheimer’s, what would that be?

Claude Wischik: That’s really easy. If you really think this is Alzheimer’s, run, don’t walk. Go to a clinic. Find a trial and get the patient enrolled, particularly in the early stages. Don’t hang about. Don’t pretend this is going to go away by itself. That’s often the big barrier—people don’t want to face it. They don’t want to face the word. They think, OK, my memory’s bad, but I haven’t got Alzheimer’s. The trouble is, they just let it pass another year. It’ll be OK. We can manage somehow. That it can’t be. If it’s really bad enough that you suspect it – and generally the families know– then find a trial. At least there’s some hope. But if you do nothing, then there’s no hope.


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