PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A new Oregon Health & Science University study in Portland is looking into whether FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatment Lecanemab — shown to help those living with the disease– can help prevent it.

The AHEAD Study at OHSU is testing people who do not have symptoms but may be at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

“This is the only study that can test whether Lecanemab can intervene before future memory loss. If we can identify the spark of a forest fire before the entire forest is set aflame, that’s what Lecanemab study is trying to do when it comes to identifying the toxic proteins that sit on top of the brain and are the catalysts for Alzheimer’s disease. If we can get ahead of those, can we get ahead of Alzheimer’s disease?” explained OHSU Community Outreach Specialist Charles Fennell.

The study is recruiting people between 55 and 80 years old who do not have the disease but may be at risk — including factors such as family history or demographic risk. According to Fennell, Black, Indigenous and people of color experience the disease up to two times more than white people.

“Before we involve you within the medicine, before we get you too far in the study, we go ahead and assess your risk via blood test and other cognitive assessments, but also look at different things going on about your family history, and your genetics and whatnot and determine if you’d be a good fit for the study,” Fennell explained.

The outreach specialist noted Alzheimer’s affects 6.7 million people nationwide and 69,000 people in Oregon.