Family fights for more, more inclusive Alzheimer's clinical trials

Dr. says no new Alzheimer's drug in 17 years

INDIANAPOLIS - Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's every 68 seconds, yet research to find a cure lags way behind many other diseases and conditions.

Mike Hatke and his wife, Rita, found this out the hard way when Mike Hatke was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's in his 40s.

"It was, I couldn't believe it," he said. "My grandmother had Alzheimer's, so I thought that was something that only old people got."

Rita Hatke tried for years to get her husband into some clinical trials, only to find he was too young -- not eligible until he turned 50. 

"It makes me so mad," Rita Hatke said. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard to have a cut off for a disease that anybody can get."

Dr. Stephen Rappaport has been researching Alzheimer's for 20 years and wrote a book explaining the clinical trials process. He says he's seen advancements in nearly every area except Alzheimer's, pointing out there hasn't even been a new Alzheimer's drug in 17 years.

"To find something that treats the underlying disease has been extraordinarily elusive," he said. "The only way that you're ever going to get something that will be an effective treatment is through clinical research."

The Hatkes go to Washington, D.C., yearly to speak to lawmakers and research company CEOs. They want to see more funding, fewer restrictions for clinical trials and, ultimately, a cure.

"I'm hoping that with the trials, it might save my dad's life," said Jason Hatke. "It could save my life. And even if I don't get it, if my kids would get it, I want them to have a cure."

To find out more about the Alzheimer's Association's TrialMatch program -- and trials you or someone you love might be able to take part in -- click here

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