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Friday 8th September 2006

Renowned US Neuroscience Institute Announces Partnership with Trinity College

Announcing an Innovative Clinical Study Aimed at Developing Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

A new partnership between the Roskamp Institute, the renowned Florida based Neuroscience Institute and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) was announced in Dublin today. The new partnership, which will enable major new scientific studies to be carried out in Ireland, will commence with a novel clinical study to determine if the drug Nilvadipine (Nivadil ™) might be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. The pilot study will be a first step in trying to develop a potential treatment for Alzheimer's Disease and if successful could change the direction of other studies of dementia.

The new partnership brings together some of the foremost expertise in neuroscience in Ireland, led by Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Professor of Medical Gerontology in TCD, and consultant in Geriatric Medicine in St. James Hospital and Trinity and Professor Brian Lawlor, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at St James Hospital and Trinity College. Doctors Michael Mullan and Fiona Crawford from the Roskamp Institute are renowned for their work in neuropsychiatry and neurodegenerative disorders and in particular for their research on effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Previous pioneering work of Roskamp Institute researchers Doctors Michael Mullan and Fiona Crawford has shown that certain genetic variations may cause or predispose humans to Alzheimer's disease, and these genetic variations have given scientists clues about the Alzheimer's disease process. In particular these studies led to the identification of a small protein called ß-amyloid as central to the disease process.

Research undertaken by the Roskamp Institute over the last 10 years suggests that some medications have the potential to increase the removal of the amyloid protein from the brain into the blood, which is believed could be beneficial in developing a potential treatment for Alzheimer's Disease. The purpose of this study is to establish if the drug, Nilvadipine alters the level of amyloid in the blood. Nilvadipine is currently used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and is available in Ireland on prescription. It has been used for many years and has a good safety profile. The clinical study, which will be funded by the Roskamp Institute, will involve 150 mild to moderate Alzheimer patients who must be referred by their hospital physician or GP. Critical to the success of the study will be this recruitment of the optimum number of patients over an 18 month period, following referral by their physicians and GPs in the Dublin area.

A key element to the success of the clinical study is the formation of a new umbrella group of clinicians in Dublin hospitals, the Dublin Ageing Research Network (DARN). Doctors of Geriatrics and Old Age Psychiatry from St James' Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, James Connolly Memorial Hospital (Blanchardstown), Loughlinstown, Mater Hospital, St Vincent's Hospital, the Adelaide and Meath Hospital (Tallaght) and St Patricks Hospital, will participate in a new partnership to promote clinical research studies in ageing in Dublin, of which this is the first study. This new collaborative venture will put Dublin researchers at the forefront of brain ageing” research internationally.

Speaking at the announcement in Dublin today, Dr Mike Mullan, Director of the Roskamp Institute said that the new collaboration with Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience marked an exciting milestone for all the teams involved. We are very pleased to join forces with TCIN and we look forward to working together in future years on many projects at the cutting edge of medical science. The forthcoming Nilvadipine clinical study is an important step in our research for a treatment for Alzheimer's. However it is just one more step along a very long road. We do not know yet whether this drug will help to treat Alzheimer's disease and memory loss and it is important to make that clear at the outset”.

Welcoming the new partnership with the Roskamp Institute and the establishment of DARN, Brian Lawlor MD said that the new collaboration would enable TCIN to carry out very important research studies in coming years. This is a significant development not just for Trinity College but for brain ageing research in Ireland. Already it has enabled us to form the Dublin Ageing Research Network comprising doctors in geriatrics and old age psychiatry from the major Dublin hospitals to work on this important clinical study, which could lead to an innovative approach to a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Our colleagues in all of these hospitals will play a vital role in carrying out this important clinical study.”

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland welcomed the announcement of the clinical study. Chief Executive of the Society, Mr Maurice O'Connell said: Today's announcement heralds a new era in medical research here in Ireland and will be welcomed by the 38,000 people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and their carers and families. This kind of clinical study can offer hope to people living with Alzheimer's disease and their families. Hope that more effective treatments for Alzheimer's will become available in the future and hope that they will maintain their independence for longer. However, it is important to remember that this is very early stages.”

Carers and families should contact their Physician or GP for further information. GPs should contact Dr Sean Kennelly, c/o Hospital 4, St James Hospital, Dublin 8. Email: skennelly@stjames.ie


Mary McCarthy/Louise Cassidy, Weber Shandwick, Tel: 01 676 0168;
Mobiles: 086 2568 429 (Mary)/ 086 383 5727 (Louise)

The Roskamp Institute is devoted to understanding causes and finding cures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and addictions. The Institute utilizes a broad range of scientific approaches to understanding the causes of, and identifying potential therapies for these disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimers disease. The Institute is located in Sarasota, Florida and operates a memory clinic and clinical research offices in Sarasota and Tampa, Florida. www.rfdn.org

Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, TCIN, is an interdisciplinary research and teaching institute with a unique niche of investigators whose mission is captured in the phrase 'from molecules to mind', emphasising the vision stretching across differing levels of investigation of brain function.
The philosophy of the institute is that an innovative approach to research in neurosciences crosses traditionally distinct academic boundaries focusing on and anticipating the needs at the cutting edge of neuroscience, a quality that is necessary to be internationally competitive in the challenge of delivering molecule to mind to society.

The Nilvadipine Trial:
The study has approval from the Irish Medicines Board and the St James's Hospital Research Ethics Committee

Investigators: Brian Lawlor, MD FRCPI, FRCpsych, DABPN
Rose Anne Kenny, MD,FRCPI, FRCP
St. James' Hospital, James Street, Dublin 8
Roskamp Institute, Sarasota, FL.

Sub-Investigators: Michael Mullan, MBBS., Ph.D., MRCPsych
Fiona Crawford, Ph.D.,
Julia Parrish LPN
Research Fellow: Dr. Sean Kennelly MB BAO BCh MRCPI
Research nurses: Sharon Bolger, RPN, BNS, PgDipStat
Claire Mooney,DipNS,BSC(N),PgDipGerrN

Facts about Dementia:
Today, more than 35,000 people in Ireland have dementia, of which Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form. The risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease increases with age with its prevalence rising from approximately 1% in people under 65 years old to more than 25% for those over 80 years. Although rare and more commonly associated with older age, Alzheimer's Disease can also occur in people in their 40's and 50's.

The number of people with dementia is expected to increase steadily over the next 25 years:

  • There are over 5 million people with dementia in Europe
  • There are nearly 18 million people with dementia in the world
  • By 2025 there will be about 34 million people with dementia in the world
  • By 2025 71 per cent of people with dementia will live in developing countries


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