Kelowna Rockets boss throws support behind Alzheimer’s study

Bruce Hamilton says he wants to help raise awareness of the disease.

Kelowna Rockets general manger Bruce Hamilton

The owner and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets is offering his support to a new clinical research opportunity for drug treatments that could assist those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bruce Hamilton will join Dr. Kim Christie, director of research for Okanagan Clinical Trials, for a presentation about the new Alzheimer’s memory screening program now in need of research participants. The presentation will take place Wednesday, Aug. 31, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna.

Hamilton announced Monday he is teaming up with Okanagan Clinical Trials, a clinical research group based in Kelowna.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a major health crisis and a growing problem,” said Hamilton.  “By participating in the Lace Up for New Alzheimer’s Treatments informational session on Aug. 31, I hope to increase awareness of the importance of participating in clinical research.  I am excited to play an important role in this campaign.”

Interviewed earlier, Hamilton said he has become knowledgeable about Christie’s research and the optimism that it will lead to better drug treatment options for patients.

“It’s actually pretty interesting what they are doing. My parents are in their late 80s and they don’t have it, but my aunt and grandfather did,” Hamilton said.

But he added the larger impact for him has come from the crowd dispersing from Prospera Place after Rockets’ hockey games, and seeing people needing assistance as they leave the arena.

“When I’m heading down to the coach’s room after the game, when I walk around the rink I see people getting help from a spouse or a friend and it leaves an impression on me,” Hamilton said. “It’s a sad disease to see inflicted on someone. Seniors are loyal fans of ours and they are the ones that tend to be most associated with this disease, so if we can do something to give back and help them we’d like to do that.

“Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 700,000 people in Canada alone, and by 2031, it is projected that more than 1.4 million people in Canada will be living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Lace Up is part of an international campaign being led by former NFL player Solomon Wilcots and the MINDSET clinical research program, which is studying a new potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Bruce Hamilton is an impactful addition to this campaign,” said Wilcots.  “People look to athletic leaders such as Bruce to provide guidance and information regarding health and rehabilitation.  Education and teamwork are required to help the medical community get potential treatments over the goal line.”

Hamilton said he understands from the memory screening research now ongoing, there are three or four potential drugs that are close to being accessible for people in both the U.S. and Canada.

“I’m just hopeful that Dr. Christie and the other research efforts underway can come up with something to help people who are dealing with Alzheimer’s,” he said.

It has been more than 12 years since any new Alzheimer’s treatments have received approvals for use, as doctors and patients continue to clamour for medicine development to address the cognitive and behavioural decline associated with Alzheimer’s.While many new drugs are at the clinical study stage, these studies often struggle to move forward because of a lack of participation from patient volunteers.

Christie is leading the Mindset study in Kelowna, which involves a drug that could break the 12-year approval drought, providing the clinical research enrolment meets the data compilation requirements.In her study, participants must already be taking donepzil, marketed under the brand name Aricept.

The new drug is being studied as an add-on therapy to donepzil, which is most commonly prescribed medication for the disease.

While half the participants will receive a placebo during the trial, at the end, all patients will be offered the real drug treatment for one full year.

“Telling somebody that already has Alzheimer’s that they can take a medication that will give them a couple more years of functional life, that’s exciting,” Christie said earlier this year.

This clinical trial could be the last one needed before the new treatment is approved for sale to consumers. While retired professional athletes in the U.S. and Toronto area have participated in support events for Alzheimer’s research, that focus is largely come from the football world.

Hamilton represents the first foray from the Canadian hockey community into promoting the research cause.

If you or someone you love is impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss, the Rockets say they hope you will join them Aug. 31 at  the Coast Capri Hotel. RSVP at www.LaceUpKelowna.eventbrite.com.

For those outside of the Kelowna area, visit www.alzheimersglobalstudy.com to learn more about the MINDSET study and identify research centres near you.