Blood pressure drug being given to Alzheimer's sufferers as part of ground-breaking Bristol trial
Alzheimer's sufferers will be given a commonly used blood pressure drug to see if it slows down progression of the disease, as part of a ground-breaking trial being led by Bristol scientists.
Researchers at Bristol University and North Bristol NHS Trust have received almost £2 million funding from the Medical Research Council for the study, which also involves scientists and patients at centres around the UK. They will give the drug Losartancorr, which is already licensed and available on the NHS, to people with Alzheimer’s to see whether it slows the damage to the brain caused by the form of dementia. Researchers will look at whether the drug slows down the brain shrinkage that happens in Alzheimer’s and whether it improves blood flow in the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of more than half of the cases of dementia, affecting about 800,000 people in the UK.
About 230 people will be recruited for the trial over the course of two years. Some will be given Losartan while others will take a placebo.
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Participants will have their brains scanned at the start of the trial and 12 months later, to establish the rate of shrinkage in that time and any improvement to blood flow.
Previous studies have shown that reduced blood flow in the brain is a common early feature in Alzheimer’s disease while researchers have discovered that people who have taken Losartan or similar drugs have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a slower rate of deterioration in those with the form of dementia.
Pat Kehoe, of Bristol University, who will lead the study said its importance “could not be overstated”.
“We are quite a long way from finding a cure but at least if we can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or reduce the incidence of it, if we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years we can effectively halve the number of people who have it at any one time,” Dr Kehoe said.
“Without wishing to get ahead of ourselves, the beauty of this drug, if it is found to work as we expect, is that it is already available and is cheap.”
He said the trial could lead to people with high blood pressure taking the drug earlier in life when the damage in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s occur
The study will look at people with Alzheimer’s aged 55 and over. It is not exclusive to people with high blood pressure. Anyone interested in taking part un the trial or similar studies should email email@example.com or visit www.dendron.nihr.ac.uk.