Dementia Trials Ireland (DTI) is developing a national infrastructure to develop, attract and conduct dementia clinical trials across the state. Involving both lay and professional members of Ireland’s dementia community, DTI 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 and different types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and others. The project is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) for five years,
Professor Iracema Leroi of the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), Trinity College and St James’ Hospital is principal investigator of the project; Professor Seán Kennelly of Tallaght University Hospital is co-lead.
To date, only a few centres in Ireland have conducted dementia trials, meaning that only a tiny handful of people with dementia have had the opportunity to participate in a study and access a potentially important treatment. This needs to change. Ireland must take its place at the international table of those changing the landscape for dementia treatment. This is the only way that people in Ireland will have early access to new treatments when they at last start emerging.
DTI will support a range of trials: from social and creative arts interventions such as dance therapy to complex drug interventions. It will include all members of the dementia community, healthy volunteers, people with dementia and caregivers, working towards the common goal of improving the lives of Ireland’s residents at risk of, or living with dementia.
Professor Iracema Leroi, DTI lead, said:
“In the past 25 years nearly all the clinical trials for new dementia drugs have not been successful. 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.”
Professor Seán Kennelly, consultant physician, Tallaght University Hospital, Clinical Associate Professor of Medical Gerontology and GBHI faculty member at Trinity College, Director of the Institute for Memory and Cognition and DTI co-lead said:
“ 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 result are increasing the repertoire of agents to treat or even potentially prevent them happening in the future.”