Dementia Trials Ireland officially launched

Access to clinical trials open to everyone affected

Deborah Condon

September 27, 2022

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  • A new dementia research network has been launched with the aim of offering every person in Ireland who is living with dementia, or is at risk of developing the disease, the opportunity to access clinical trials.

    Dementia Trials Ireland (DTI) is creating a national infrastructure to develop, attract and conduct dementia clinical trials nationwide. It aims to significantly increase the capacity and capability to successfully undertake clinical trials across the range of stages of dementia, from preclinical to advanced stage.

    It will include different types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and vascular dementia.

    To date, only a few centres in Ireland have conducted dementia trials, which means that only a tiny number of people with dementia have had the opportunity to participate in a study and access a potentially important treatment.

    DTI emphasised that this needs to change if people in Ireland are to have early access to new treatments when they start emerging.

    It will support a range of trials - from social and creative arts interventions, such as dance therapy, to complex drug interventions.

    According to DTI principal investigator, Prof Iracema Leroi of the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) in Trinity College Dublin and St James’ Hospital, over the last 25 years, almost all clinical trials for new dementia drugs have been unsuccessful.

    “In most fields this would cause profound nihilism. However, the overwhelming need for trials and the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias demands that we in the dementia community continue seeking a solution. Giving up is not an option. 

    “In Ireland, we talk a lot about ‘brain health’ and ‘dementia prevention’, however our ability to arrest progression of dementia remains inadequate. Hence, clinical trials must continue. We need more trials, more interventions to trial and more people volunteering to participate in trials,” she commented.

    Meanwhile, according to DTI research co-lead and consultant physician at Tallaght University Hospital, Prof Seán Kennelly, “this is how cancer drugs have succeeded so well and this is the only way we can move forward as a dementia community”.

    “National and regional infrastructures to support clinical trials for cancer have dramatically improved survival rates, showing that research works. We are at a really important intersection where we’re learning more all the time about the biology that’s causing these dementia syndromes and as a result, are increasing the repertoire of agents to treat or even potentially prevent them happening in the future,” he noted.

    DTI involves both lay and professional members of Ireland’s dementia community and the project is being funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) for the next five years.

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