A Victorian patient with Alzheimer’s disease has become the first in the world to be given a breakthrough new drug that experts hope will revolutionise treatment for the most common form of dementia.
Alfred Health was selected by the overseas drug company to lead the first trial on patients with the disease, giving Victorians exclusive access to a cutting edge drug.
Unlike current medications, Anavex is the only drug designed to both relieve sufferers’ symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Director of Aged Psychiatry at Caulfield Hospital and study lead, Associate Professor Steve Macfarlane said the global race to find better treatments for Alzheimer’s disease means the phase 2 trial will be fast tracked.
Results will be known within a year and, if successful, the drug could later be available to thousands of patients as part of a larger clinical trial.
“Existing drug treatments for Alzheimer’s solely improve a patient’s symptoms, but don’t halt or cure the disease, which is why the most recent trials are focusing on being able to modify the disease to slow or stop its progression,” A/Prof Macfarlane said.
“This trial – Anavex 2-73 – is unique and exciting because it aims to both improve memory and slow the disease. Another feature of the Anavex trial is the absence of a placebo; all participants in the study will receive the active drug.
“Ultimately, we are hoping to find treatments that can prevent, halt or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s,” A/Prof Macfarlane said.
Caulfield Hospital was approached by the US-based developer of the drug because of the reputation of its clinical trials team.
Caulfield hospital is recruiting patients. To be eligible for the study, patients should have early-stage Alzheimer’s and be on the cognitive enhancer, Aricept. Outcomes will be measured through computerised cognitive tests and EEG.