- 27 Sep 22
There is an "overwhelming need for trials" and "high prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."
A new organisation, Dementia Trials Ireland (DTI), is expected to offer every person affected by dementia the opportunity to access clinical trials.
DTI is being funded by the Health Research Board for the next five years. The vision of Dementia Trials Ireland is to ensure that every person at risk of – or living with – dementia in Ireland has access to clinical research. The network, which is supported by the Health Research Board (HRB), was launched today, September 27th, at the Naughton Institute, Trinity College Dublin.
Those at risk or currently living with dementia will have access to a variety of support: ranging from social and creative arts interventions to complex drug interventions.
The past 25 years have seen nearly all clinical trials for dementia fail, according to DTI lead Professor Iracema Leroi. "The overwhelming need for trials and the high prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, demands that we in the dementia community continue to seek a solution," she said.
Leroi is a geriatric psychiatrist specialising in dementia at St James's Hospital in Dublin. She explains, "The impacts of dementia are multi-faceted, so we need to investigate trans-disciplinary and trans-national approaches to improve the lives of people living with dementia, as well as to prevent or slow the emergence of dementia."
Until now, only a few centres in Ireland have led dementia trials. This leaves the majority of the 65,000 plus people living with dementia without access to the potentially groundbreaking treatment. Leroi and DTI say more trials were needed, more interventions to trial, and more participants.
It is estimated there are 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland and this number is predicted to double by 2046.
By 2050, some 153 million people worldwide are expected to be living with dementia – a rise from 57 million in 2019, largely due to population growth and population ageing, according to estimates published in The Lancet Public Health in January.
The Lancet paper highlighted the urgent need to roll-out locally tailored interventions that reduced risk factor exposure, alongside research to discover effective disease-modifying treatments and new modifiable risk factors.
DTI wants to support trials that relate to different types and stages of the disease from pre-clinical to advanced, according to Prof Leroi.
Currently, clinicians are working with four symptomatic therapies that cannot arrest the progression of dementia.
“They are widely used with some moderate effectiveness for symptoms,” explained Prof Leroi. “But of course, in the background for all these years have been multiple trials looking at potential disease-modifying therapies. This includes many different strategies, because Alzheimer’s is a highly complex disease with multiple pathologies; it’s not likely that a single drug will fix the problem.”