Study to test drug's possible anti-Alzheimer's effect

A Sarasota research institute hopes to find out in a study in Ireland if a blood pressure medicine has an added benefit.

Published September 19, 2006

Could a drug used to treat high blood pressure also help treat Alzheimer's disease? A Sarasota Alzheimer's research center wants to find out.

The Roskamp Institute plans to announce today the start of a $1.5-million study to see whether the drug, Nilvadipine, can lower the level of harmful proteins in the brain.

The institute plans to conduct most of the research in Ireland, with Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin. It will recruit about 450 people to find 150 participants, said Dr. Michael Mullan, Roskamp director and co-director of the study.

Roskamp scientists have previously done research on Nilvadipine, and are eager to extend their work to human trials.

Work will be conducted in Ireland because the drug, Nilvadipine, is not approved in the United States. The drug is a type of calcium channel blocker. Several similar drugs are used in the United States, but their effects on Alzheimer's are unknown, Mullan said.

Roskamp researchers decided to study Nilvadipine further after finding that in mice, it decreases brain levels of beta amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer's.

The 18-month study will measure whether people taking the drug have increased levels of beta amyloid in their blood, a sign that the protein is leaving the brain.

If the drug works, researchers' next step would be a longer study that measures whether patients' symptoms are affected, Mullan said.

Roskamp plans to recruit the same number of patients in Florida for companion studies. These patients won't get the drug, but would have blood drawn to study how their beta amyloid levels change over time.

Roskamp is paying for the study with its own funds, and no drug companies are contributing to the cost, Mullan said.

People interested in volunteering for the study can call Roskamp at (941) 752-2949.

Study to test drug's possible anti-Alzheimer's effect