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The Research and Innovation Center

Alzheimer's Research Program 

Every 65 seconds, a new case of Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed in the United States.  This amounts to 5.8 million people nationwide currently suffering from the disease, and an estimated 14 million that will be diagnosed by 2050.  In the state of South Carolina alone, just under 100,000 people aged 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s and 318,000 individuals are serving as caregivers for them. 

At the Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center, we are at the forefront of the fight to stop this trend and change the course of this devastating disease once and for all. As part of this mission to find a cure, our robust research team studies a variety of the most innovative Alzheimer’s treatments across the entire spectrum of the disease.

Status of Alzheimer's Treatment and Research 
Today’s available memory medications (i.e. Aricept, Namenda, Exelon) are designed to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but will not change the course of the disease itself.
There are currently no widely available treatments that can stop or slow down the progression of the disease, which is why Alzheimer’s research is so incredibly important.

How You Can Help
A cure for Alzheimer’s disease will only be found through ongoing clinical trials aimed at developing ways to treat and prevent the disease.  At the Research and Innovation Center, these trials are made possible by an infrastructure of dedicated researchers and administrative staff, as well as the funding to support outreach efforts needed to reach new clinical trial participants in our community and carry out memory assessments to evaluate for research opportunities.  There are several philanthropic opportunities available to accelerate and support ongoing Alzheimer’s programs and to launch promising new initiatives.  Help us in our fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Learn more about Alzheimer's Research.
Donate Now to Alzheimer's Research.

Music and the Brain

Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressing disorder characterized by the dysfunction and eventual death of brain cells. This process often results in profound deterioration of brain activity, specifically a decrease in brain functions such as memory and emotional control.

Early evidence suggests that one approach to slowing this gradual loss of brain cells is through brain stimulation. It has been found that by stimulating the healthy areas of the brain, the negatively affected areas may also be invigorated, increasing their activity and restoring function in the same way that a pacemaker improves heart function.

In recent years, researchers have identified an area of the brain that remains unaffected in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease – the “music brain.”  Scientific studies have shown that this is the area of the brain that allows us to enjoy music.  The Research and Innovation Center is currently developing a way to study this area of the brain to further understand music’s ability to help restore brain function that has been damaged by this terrible disease.

How You Can Help 
We believe music can be a powerful, non-invasive tool in improving the brain health of Alzheimer’s patients.  In order to build on this new field of Alzheimer’s research, The Research & Innovation Center has applied for a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to collect scientific information to prove that music can be a powerful brain stimulus in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  However, this grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match and we need additional funding to meet that match.

Donate now to Music and the Brain.

Alzheimer's AMBAR Treatment 

As we work diligently to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center’s top priority has always been to deliver the most advanced care and innovative research opportunities to patients. The profound need for new treatments motivates us to prepare and deliver new therapies as soon as they are available.

We hope to further this work by providing a groundbreaking plasmapheresis treatment recently studied through the Grifols AMBAR clinical trial.  The Research and Innovation Center was previously a clinical trial site from 2015-2017 and will now be one of only two U.S. sites to initially offer this treatment, the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease since 2005.  This new therapy has shown promising outcomes in patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

How does the treatment work?
Also known as plasma exchange, plasmapheresis is a process that filters the blood and removes harmful antibodies.  Albumin, which is the most abundant protein in plasma, attracts the damaging Beta Amyloid (Aβ) plaque that collects in the brain.  During the treatment, this abnormal albumin is removed and discarded. New plasma is then mixed with fresh albumin is given back to the patient.

How You Can Help 
Achieving our vision for developing the AMBAR plasmapheresis therapy program through philanthropy will require an initial $1 million investment from the community, supported through a fund managed by the Roper St. Francis Foundation. This funding will support program development by providing for two plasmapheresis machines and indigent care as needed.  The AMBAR program will be the first new Alzheimer’s therapy made available to the public in 15 years.

Donate now to AMBAR.

D. Loy Stewart & George C. Wendt Institute for ALS Research 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, comes from the Greek language meaning “no muscle nourishment."  This absence of muscle stimulation is due to a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements.  As ALS progresses, motor neurons begin to die, resulting in the brain’s inability to control muscle movement. This continuous degeneration of motor neurons eventually leads to full paralysis and ultimately, death.  A rapidly progressing disease, the average life expectancy is only two to five years and someone loses their battle to ALS every 90 minutes. 

Creating a Better Tomorrow - The STEWART PROJECT
The STEWART Project is an ambitious, nationwide clinical trial intended to validate an ALS biomarker.  Should this national program be successful, the discovery of a reliable biological marker could result in a diagnostic blood test; the first of its kind for this devastating disease that currently takes months, if not years, to diagnose.  This could mean more time with loved ones, potential treatments, possibly even a cure for a disease that impacts the families of 16,000 individuals every year.  Developing a blood test to track the progression of ALS is truly an exciting prospect that will positively impact the health of our community forever.

Learn more about The STEWART project. 
Donate now to ALS Research.

To learn more about any of these initiatives, please contact Patti Tasker, Major Gifts Director, at (843) 789-1205 or patti.tasker@rsfh.com.

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Roper St. Francis Foundation
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