NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Family is important to Carol Turner. That’s why she sits in a chair with a needle in her arm every two weeks.

“I dedicate this to my Dad because he wouldn’t want us to go through what he went through,” she told WAVY.

Turner’s dad died from Alzheimer’s in 2020. Shortly after, her mother was diagnosed with the same memory-robbing disease.

“It’s a sad disease to see someone broken down like that and to see someone’s mental state get in a way where they don’t know what they are doing,” Turner said.

While getting treatment for her mom, Turner met EVMS Geriatrics specialist, Dr. Hamid Okhravi.
He told Turner of a way she and her siblings, now themselves at high risk for getting Alzheimer’s, could possibly get ahead of it.

AHEAD Study is a new Alzheimer’s disease prevention study that tests whether a new medicine will delay the memory decline 20 years before people develop symptoms,’ Dr. Okhravi said.

Dr. Okhravi and his team at Eastern Virginia Medical School use a PET scan of participants’ brains to look for Amyloid plaques. They are believed to be the main culprits of Alzheimer’s disease.

The test showed both Turner and her brother, Ray, have them.

“I didn’t really feel sad. I’m just kind of glad I found out and have a way, finally, have a way now that we can actually start treating that,” Turner said.

The treatment is an investigational drug called lecanemab. Turner goes to get an infusion every two weeks, but since it’s a blind study, she’s not sure if she getting the drug or a placebo.

Turner told us she is OK with that because even if the drug is proven to work and she didn’t get it, the results could benefit her children and so many others.

Dr. Okrahvi called her a pioneer telling Turner, “you are actually the first African American participant so you are absolutely a role model for people out there.”

Black Americans, he said, are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their white counterparts, but are very underrepresented in clinical trials. “So what it means is that if we develop a medicine for treatment of Alzheimer’s, we don’t know how effective these medications are in Black Americans,” Okhravi said.

Dr. Okhravi has teamed up with Hampton University to dispel fears and recruit more minority participants in Hampton Roads. “At least enroll 15% of the population from underrepresented groups,” he told WAVY.

Turner hopes her story will help others feel more comfortable about getting Ahead of Alzheimer’s.
as it aims to avoid the pain for families left behind.

For more information on the clinical trials at EVMS, CLICK HERE.