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New Alzheimer’s disease drug trial opens across Scotland

New Alzheimer’s disease drug trial opens across Scotland

17th November 2015

People with Alzheimer’s disease who live in Scotland are being asked to consider taking part in a ground-breaking government-funded trial.  The trial is investigating if a drug normally used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) has additional properties that could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in people with and without hypertension.

Led by academics from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, and University College London and hosted by North Bristol NHS Trust, this multi-centre clinical trial, will investigate if losartan, a blood pressure drug that first became available in 1995, can complement current treatments for AD. The researchers believe losartan can slow down the progression of AD by improving brain blood flow and altering chemical pathways that cause brain cell damage, brain shrinkage and memory problems in AD.

The trial known as RADAR (Reducing pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease through Angiotensin taRgeting), is hoping to recruit approximately 230 participants, together with a similar number of carers, from across the UK including sites covering the Tayside, Lothian, Grampian, Glasgow, Border and Lanarkshire areas, all of which are partners in the Scottish Dementia Clinical Research Network (SDCRN). 

As part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, funding of nearly £2 million was awarded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, an MRC and NIHR partnership. 

The RADAR study is a double blinded placebo-controlled randomised trial, meaning that some participants will be randomly assigned to receive either the study drug or a placebo and nobody will know until the end who received which. This is one of the most powerful study designs available.

People with Alzheimer’s disease who have high or normal blood pressure can take part if they meet certain eligibility criteria and RADAR will use brain imaging to measure whether losartan reduces the rate of brain shrinkage that is known to occur in AD.  It will also be using what are standard questionnaires on memory performance and quality of life – important indicators of whether the drug might be helpful.

Professor Pat Kehoe, Gestetner Professor of Translational Dementia Research at the University of Bristol, who is leading the trial, said: “The involvement of patients and their carers at the various academic and NHS-associated dementia research centres working with this UK-based trial will be instrumental in helping to test if losartan will be a future treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Professor Peter Connelly, who last month became Champion and Director of SDCRN, added: “We are absolutely delighted that so many SDCRN sites are able to offer people with Alzheimer’s disease in many parts of Scotland the opportunity to take part in this important study. Regretfully there are only a limited number of places we can offer to potential participants at each of the sites so we hope people will be getting in touch to find out more.”

Professor Kehoe and his team are using Join Dementia Research to help with recruitment to the study. The Join Dementia Research service allows anyone with and without dementia to sign up using basic demographic and health information and be matched to dementia research studies in their area. Research teams can then approach potential volunteers about their particular study and the volunteer can decide whether to take part on a case-by-case basis.

People can sign up to Join Dementia Research to see if they are a potential match to the RADAR study either online at or by contacting one of the charity helplines of Alzheimer Scotland (0808 808 3 000) or Alzheimer’s Research UK (0300 111 5 111). Alternatively, they can contact the Scottish Dementia Clinical Research Network directly on 01738 562322.

In Scotland 90 participants will be recruited in:

  • Tayside - contact Catriona McCaw on or 01738 414535
  • Glasgow - Catriona Mcneill on or 0141 211 4955
  • Lanarkshire - Veronica Smith on or 0141 211 4955
  • Grampian - contact Alison McBain on or 01224 557948
  • Lothian - contact Lewis Killin on or 0131 537 3806
  • Borders - contact Bernie McInally on or 01450 372276

Participants should be aged at least 55 years with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease.





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