Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater Joins Clinical Trial to Investigate New Way to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater Joins Clinical Trial to Investigate New Way to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida in the Tampa Bay region has signed up to participate in a clinical trial evaluating novel Alzheimer’s disease detection method. The goal is to drastically impact the lives of thousands of people and family members dealing with this disease. The study is led by Butler Hospital in Providence Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island.

The Study

TrialSite News summarized this clinical trial recently with the inclusion of Florida’s Baycare Health System. This five-year, $5 million Atlas of Retinal Imaging in Alzheimer’s Study (ARIAS) is sponsored by BayCare Health System’s Morton Plant Hospital and St. Anthony’s Hospital and largely funded by Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation and St. Anthony’s Hospital Foundation in Pinellas County, Florida.

The study focuses on the patient’s eyes—specifically their retinas—as the location for potential clues in the Alzheimer’s disease diagnostic process. And conveniently the study capitalizes on standard medical technology in many optometry and ophthalmology offices. 

Key: Early Detection

The study is important as it pursues a potential method to detect Alzheimer’s disease as early as 20 years prior to the surfacing of symptoms. Although there is no cure yet having such time would be incredibly powerful for the health care system to act on such information—transition patients into care plans that reinforce the right behavior—e.g. activity, diet, sleep, etc.

Keeping it Real in the Tampa Bay Area

As reported in ABC Action News in the Tampa Bay Area, this clinical trial is critically important and personal.  Local resident Kristine Lee discusses how the disease robbed her grandma of her memory— “slipping away one phone call at a time.” Lee was deeply influenced by this loss which led her to eventually jointing the Alzheimer’s Association and organizing races to raise research funding. While, a participating BayCare neurologist, Dr. Stuart Sinoff, knows the pain created by this disease as he lost his mom to Alzheimer’s just last year.  Dr. Sinoff notes “When you leave your keys, when you’re wondering what your shopping list was, is it really just the relatively expected mild change in aging or do you have an important neurodegenerative disease that might be the beginning of something really disastrous? This research will pave the way for patients to find out sooner.”

A Basic Human Need: Our Memories

This frankly is a terrifying condition if we contemplate for a moment that one of the only things we truly keep toward the end—our last days of life—is in fact our memories—of our loved ones; our great times and achievements; of the life we have lived. For anyone that has ever been next to a dying parent, the ability to look deeply into their eyes and establish that last connection—at least in this physical realm—represents perhaps one of the deepest and most important moments in life itself. As neurogenerative diseases deprive us of this precious point—as there might not even be a recognition of the other in some cases– it is our shared human fight to keep our memories till the end of our lives.  

The Research Site

Morton Plan Hospital is named after Morton Freeman Plant, the son of Henry Bradley Plant, founder of the Plant System of railroads, steamships and associated hotels. A wealthy family, they Plant’s ultimately pledged half the capital for the building of a hospital in Clearwater with the city itself coming up with the other half. Situated on a bluff overlooking Clearwater Bay, the hospital faces the Gulf of Mexico. It includes 687 beds.

The hospital’s clinical research divisional contact is Jo Simpson, Manager of Clinical Research.

Lead Research/Investigator

Peter Snyder, PhD, URI vice president for research and development, professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences

Stuart Sinoff, MD, medical director BayCare Health System (West Region Pinellas County)

Call to Action: Jo Simpson, Manager Clinical research is listed as a contact for clinical research for sponsors interested in working with this medical provider on future studies. Contact: (727) 461-8519