Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

Calling All Study Volunteers

Summer 2007

The School of Medicine has more than 350 clinical studies ongoing at any given time. Here are a few studies currently in need of volunteers.

Barking up the right tree?

A new School of Medicine study will assess whether a supplement made from pine bark extract can help reduce the blood pressure of people who are at mild to moderate risk for heart disease. Researchers also will assess whether the supplement has other positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

"Like most herbal supplements and natural remedies, pine bark extract is marketed with claims that it improves health," said Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and principal investigator for the study. However, these claims have never been validated in large-scale, rigorous studies, Stafford said.

More information on the study is available online at PineBarkRecruitment.html or by calling (650) 724-9293.

Omega-3 fats: Can they help patients with Alzheimer's?

Local residents with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease are being sought for participation in a clinical trial to test whether an ingredient found in some fish, omega-3 fatty acid, can help slow progression of the disease.

Other preliminary studies have shown that people who eat more fish naturally high in one omega-3 fatty acid, called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), appear to have a lower risk for dementia, the mental decline that can be caused by Alzheimer's, said J. Wesson Ashford, MD, PhD, senior research scientist at the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center. DHA is the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain, and studies in the 1990s revealed it to be essential for neurocognitive development.

Those interested in participating can call the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center at (650) 852-3287, visit, or call the Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center at (800) 438-4380.

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