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Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

Dementia Trial Currently Seeking Participants

January 26, 2016

Have you or someone you know been recently diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease or Mild Cognitive Impairment and are over age 60? You may be eligible to participate in a new clinical trial being conducted at Burke Medical Research Institute.

The study aims to determine if increasing brain thiamine through the use of the drug benfotiamine can help slow cognitive decline. It is a one-year trial, and requires participants to visit the Burke campus in White Plains.

Some background: The brain depends upon glucose (sugar) and oxygen much more than other tissues. A decreased ability of the brain to use glucose is a common feature in Alzheimer’s disease. The decline closely parallels diminished mental function. Thiamine (vitamin B1) is essential for normal brain glucose utilization.  Research at Burke demonstrated that thiamine dependent processes are lower in the blood and brain of patients with AD. Thus, increasing thiamine in brain may benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The definition of Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of abnormal structures called plaques and tangles as well as memory deficits. Research done at BMRI, Weill Cornell Medical College and Mt. Sinai Medical Center shows that thiamine deficiency increases plaques and tangles in the brains of mice. Subsequent studies from BMRI/Weill Cornell Medical College and Fudan University in China demonstrate that increasing brain thiamine in mice with compounds such as benfotiamine diminishes the plaques and tangles and improves memory.

The safety of benfotiamine has already been demonstrated in humans. Diabetics are also thiamine deficient and the diminished thiamine appears to underlie the nerve damage. Large multi-center trials in Germany show that treatment with compounds such as benfotiamine, which dramatically increases thiamine levels, are beneficial in reducing the impairments caused by diabetes. Importantly, no side effects were apparent. By extension, benfotiamine is a safe way to increase thiamine brains of patients with AD.

In order to qualify for participation in the study, a number of inclusion and exclusion criteria must be met. For more, click here.

To find out if you or your loved one may qualify for the study, contact Rosanna Cirio, MA, CRC at or 914-597-2476.

*This post was originally published in May 2015. The trial is ongoing and we hope to continue to publicize the need for participants throughout the year. 

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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