Town drug trial may help tackle dementia
ALZHEIMER’S sufferers in Swindon are set to be at the centre of a cutting edge new investigation into the effect of a diabetes drug on the disease.
The study will involve 200 patients with memory problems due to early Alzheimer’s. Laboratory research suggests that the drug, liraglutide, reduces brain inflammation, improving the growth of brain cells and the connections between them.
Patients will be recruited in Swindon and the trial will also involve Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, with sufferers in the early stages of the disease also being tested in London – at Imperial College and King’s College – as well as sites in Oxford and Southampton.
Those on the trial will receive a daily injection of liraglutide or a placebo for 12 months. They will have scans and memory tests before and after the treatment.
The study is being lead by Dr Paul Edison, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, and funding amounting to £338,525 will come from the Alzheimer’s Society.
He said: “We will be centrally scanning patients at Hammersmith but the initial tests will take place in local areas, including Swindon. “We are specifically looking for patients to come forward in Swindon who have early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
“We are in discussion with AWP but the details still need to be finalised. Anyone who is interested can also contact us directly.”
The Alzheimer’s Society initially funded a pilot clinical trial of liraglutide but, following their initial investment, Dr Edison was able to raise money from additional sources to fund a much larger trial.
The additional investment comes from a range of sources, including the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug, Imperial College London and nurse support from the NHS.
The study is now a £5.7m clinical trial that will involve 10 times more participants than originally planned. If successful, this means the drug could become available as a treatment for Alzheimer’s much sooner.
Moreover, as liraglutide is currently licensed for diabetes, it has already passed through large parts of the drug development process. This makes it much cheaper and faster to develop as a new Alzheimer’s treatment than it would for new drugs.
If the trial is successful, liraglutide could become a new treatment for Alzheimer’s within the next five to 10 years.
A spokesman for AWP said: “AWP’s Kingshill Research Centre, Swindon, is discussing the extent of our involvement in this exciting research project.
“We are also undertaking several other really interesting research studies to improve the treatment and care of people with dementia, and we welcome any interest and inquiries about taking part in dementia research.”
It’s a decade since the last new treatment for Alzheimer's was introduced and some major drug trials have failed in recent years.
The need for more research and new treatments was the key focus of the G8 dementia summit in London on Wednesday.
Anyone interested in the clinical trial can contact the investigation team on 0208 383 3704. To contact AWP about dementia issues visit www.awp.nhs.uk.
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