In this article, we briefly cover the interview of Dr. Douglas Baker, hosted by Joe Springer on Youtube live at 3 PM EST today. Dr. Baker speaks about two patients who are currently enrolled in Cassava Sciences’ phase 2 trial to test their Alzhiemer’s drug Simufilam. Cassava’s readouts of data and overall statistics so far show that the cognition improvements of the first 50 patients in this early trial are very promising. The following anecdotal, supplementary evidence of two improving patients from Dr. Baker provides further encouragement and intends to raise more awareness of Simufilam trials. We encourage our readers to watch the interview and/or read the below snippets. Ad-science members find that Dr. Baker’s description of his acquaintances’ experience is poignant, sincere and a heartfelt portrayal of disease effects and drug’s impact on the concerned individuals.
Following is our abridged version of the interview corrected for grammar, context and brevity. Q & A session has not been transcribed yet – to be added at a later point in time.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): Hello everyone, Welcome Dr. Doug Baker who knows two people that are currently enrolled in the Simufilam open label trial of Cassava Sciences. Note that this trial is not placebo-controlled. It is 12-month long and is open label, so the patients are definitely taking the drug. There is a six-month placebo extension at the end of it. Cassava sciences is also running two large Phase 3 trials (RETHINK, REFOCUS) simultaneously at this time, which are both placebo-controlled.
Dr. Doug Baker: Introducing himself.. I’m a 64 year old ophthalmologist and I specialize in Glaucoma. Alzheimer’s disease has affected my family. My father died at the age of 92 due to Alzheimer’s. My best friend and best man in my wedding – for the last year and a half we didn’t have a good relationship at all because he thought I went down to South Carolina and raided his bank account and stole all this money. He looks at me like “how could you steal all my money” and so you know, Alzheimer’s has a special place in my heart. I feel for those that have families dealing with it and hopefully we can raise the awareness of the trials and this new drug.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): I’m sorry to hear about that heartbreaking story. You are an ophthalmologist but you happen to personally know two people that are in the Simufilam open label trial. They are not under your care as you said. Can you tell us about them? What are their symptoms and when did they enter the trial?
Dr. Doug Baker: I know a gentleman who is in his early to mid 80s and was extremely forgetful. In one hour he would probably repeat himself 10 to 12 times for a certain question. He was unsteady from an ambulatory perspective and he had difficulty comprehending the written word. He lost interest in reading or if something was read or if he was reading something, he couldn’t really process it.
The other individual was a charming late 70 year old female who became extremely irritable and could not remember names. She was forgetting things but the biggest thing the family had difficulty with was she went from a super sweet lady to “get out of her way” type personality. The other behavioral issues we’ve heard about, so often they could be even worse than the cognitive decline.
One individual entered the trial in december 2020 which was a difficult time because that’s right in the middle of the pandemic and the vaccines weren’t out. The family was very brave to go across the country to the trial site just outside of Miami to enter into the stud. The other individual, I believe, entered in late january or early february 2021.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): So they have been on for about a year now. How long did it take for the changes to become noticeable?
Dr. Doug Baker: For the elderly gentleman, it took about three months and then he’s had basically steady improvement in all the areas i’ve listed. Ambulatory, reading, repeating himself and forgetfulness. For the other individual it took about four or five months. Since then both of them had steady improvement in both cognitive and behavioral issues.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): That’s remarkable to hear. I wanted to mention earlier that we also heard from Dr. Gonzalez Rojas, way back after the 2b results. I think she presented the first anecdotal evidence that patients were getting better on Simufilam and she had a number of examples. She said very similar things that you mention here. It took a couple of months and they started seeing improvements. Have there been any adverse effects or downsides?
Dr. Doug Baker: No, it’s a simple 100 milligram pill that they take twice a day. There’s no stomach upset and there’s no issues at all. I mean it’s just like taking a vitamin, easily administered, easily tolerated and with no side effects.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): We know that alzheimer’s disease is a disease of continual decline so the patient should always be getting worse and so have you seen a level off or decline or an improvement
Dr. Doug Baker: I just got off the phone with one of the family members prior to coming on the show and basically they’ve noticed from the three to four month mark, a steady improvement. It’s not rapid but every month they seem to get better. From an ambulatory standpoint, walking briskly without falling. They are not worried about him falling anymore. He might repeat himself twice in an hour versus 10 or 12 times. When they were passing around some lab work of one of his brothers, he told his brother that he’s gonna have to stop eating bacon and eggs because his cholesterol was too high. This is the guy that had lost interest in reading because he had a hard time comprehending reading and now he’s scolding his brother for his elevated cholesterol levels.
The other lady – we saw at a Greek choir concert for christmas. She could not remember names and was extremely irritable. She was back after a year to her charming personality and called everyone around the table by their name. I’m not quite sure I could do that but that was after a year of treatment.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): Wow thank you very much (for sharing)! Alzheimer’s disease is a big disease for caretakers. Can you speak about the families and loved ones and what their reaction has been?
Dr. Doug Baker: As you know, it probably affects every single family in this entire world. I would strongly encourage them to think of entering them (Alzhiemer’s affected family members) in trials. Basically, there is a 50% chance of improvement (randomized between placebo v treatment) whereas if you don’t go into the trial you have no chance of an improvement because it’s a steady march downward.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): I’m so glad you brought that up. It’s a steady march downward and it’s a disease that’s always terminally ill. Everyone, there’s https://rethink-alz.com/ or to go to cassava science’s website and it links out from there. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, these phase 3 trials are enrolling right now. Studies show that this drug has no side effects.
Dr. Doug Baker: If this was three years earlier I would have had my father in that study in a heartbeat.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): You treat Glaucoma as you mentioned earlier. Can you speak more about it?
Dr. Doug Baker: It’s interesting that in Glaucoma, the elevated eye pressure damages the optic nerve. Now, the optic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It goes straight from the brain right to the eye and if you treat somebody with advanced Glaucoma, it’s difficult. On the other hand if you pick it up early before the optic nerve has much damage it’s significantly easier to treat. You know, it’s the same thing with Alzheimer’s. If we can pick this up early at the very mild stages, certainly you have a better chance of recovering quicker and staying cognitively better versus if you’re on your last legs. I said it’s sort of another reason to get this awareness out there so people know about it.
Joe Springer (Interviewer): Cassava sciences has received funding from the National Institute on Aging for a blood test. Right now, it’s hard to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. You must wait until a person already has symptoms. The blood test may be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease years ahead of time, very cheap and easily without a spinal tap or anything intrusive or painful like that.
Thank you very much Dr Baker. Dr. Baker has been gracious enough to take questions from everyone. Q & A session follows ..