EDITORIAL: Ruvo Center’s participation in Alzheimer’s study a big step for valley

Southern Nevada has had more than its share of bad news on the health care front in recent months: Dipak Desai’s life sentence for spreading hepatitis C at his endoscopy clinic; improper patient discharges and transports from the state’s Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital; and the new hardships Obamacare has imposed on residents, doctors, hospitals and insurers.

Much better news was reported Saturday by the Review-Journal’s Paul Harasim. The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health was among 50 sites in North America and Europe selected for participation in an Alzheimer’s disease prevention study touted as the largest in the world. In total, the study — named the TOMMOROW trial — is seeking 50,000 volunteers, who will then be whittled down to 6,000 participants spread over the 50 sites. The Ruvo Center says it needs 10,000 volunteers from Southern Nevada, from which it will identify 120 participants.

The key factor for consideration: no current concerns about memory loss. “What’s unique in this study is that we’re looking for cognitively normal people, people with no complaints about memory,” Dr. Kate Zhong, the Ruvo Center’s senior director of clinical research and development, told Mr. Harasim. Men and women between the ages of 65 and 83 are being sought for the study.

The fact that part of this massive study is taking place in Las Vegas is a very important step for the valley and the state of Nevada. These types of studies are precisely what Larry Ruvo envisioned when he went about the process of creating the Ruvo Center and attracting the Cleveland Clinic to oversee it. Such research also underscores why business and higher education leaders are working to create an allopathic medical school at UNLV. Given the population and demographics of this community, there is no reason Clark County can’t attract and execute more medical research projects of similar scale.

Another bonus: While much medical research is funded by government grants — taxpayer money — this five-year Alzheimer’s project was initiated and funded privately by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and its partner, Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals Inc. The private sector has powerful incentives to come up with new treatments for dementia.

At this point, the study needs Southern Nevadans to step forward. If you meet the preliminary eligibility standards, volunteer for this groundbreaking project by calling 855-568-7886 or emailing brainhealth@ccf.org. The valley’s response will decide the success of the Ruvo Center’s segment of the study and perhaps pave the way for more high-profile research projects in the future.