A large European research project called NILVAD is examining whether a drug that is currently used to treat high blood pressure could also be effective for patients suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Research has shown that the drug, nilvadipine, counters the formation of amyloid plaques in animal brains. Amyloid plaques are suspected of playing an integral part in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The NILVAD study, which is being funded by the European Commission, consists of 17 participating institutions with a strong scientific and/or clinical background in the fields of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. They are based in ten different EU member states as well as one partner in the USA and the project is coordinated by Trinity College, Dublin.
Alzheimer’s disease is a huge public health concern and it is the most common form of dementia. It affects more than 15 million individuals worldwide including 5 million in Europe. The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia amount to more than €440,000 million each year. There is therefore an imperative to develop new effective treatments for the disease.
The double-blind placebo controlled study will test the efficacy and safety of nilvadipine in 500 subjects with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease over a treatment period of 18 months. Male and female patients aged between 50 and 90 with a range of medical morbidities and frailty will be included in the study. If this trial is successful, nilvadipine would represent an advance in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and would have a major impact on the health and social care costs incurred in Europe associated with this neurodegenerative disorder.