Amlodipine – can it benefit people with vascular dementia?

A randomized controlled trial of calcium channel blockade (CCB) with amlodipine for the treatment of subcortical ischaemic vascular dementia (SIVD). Joint funding with Alzheimer's Society

Peter Passmore (lead researcher)

Belfast, Queen's University

Start date: 13 July 2014 (Duration 4 years)

The British Heart Foundation is providing over £1 million in funding to support the first ever large clinical trial for patients with subcortical ischaemic vascular dementia (SIVD) – a disease which affects the small blood vessels deep in the brain. Damage to these tiny vessels disrupts the vital blood supply to the brain, causing cells to die. This leads to the development of the symptoms of dementia including problems with coordination and walking, memory loss and mood changes. There are currently no licensed drugs to treat vascular dementia.

The trial will follow over 500 SIVD patients from around the UK and investigate whether a medicine called amlodipine has a beneficial effect. Amlodipine belongs to a group of medicines called calcium-channel blockers and smaller studies in the past have suggested that these medicines may improve dementia symptoms. It is thought that calcium-channel blockers may protect nerve cells in the brain from the oxygen starvation that results from brain vessel damage.

The researchers will use MRI brain scans and an assessment tool called the ‘Vascular Dementia Assessment Scale’ to see if there are any changes to patients’ symptoms, such as their mental speed and cognitive function. They will also measure any changes in the patients’ ability to do everyday tasks and the extent to which they require a carer to help. This BHF-supported trial is crucial in establishing whether amlodipine improves patients’ symptoms and quality of life, by delaying progression of the disease. Amlodipine is already used to treat other conditions, like high blood pressure, so could quickly become available for SIVD if proven to be effective and safe.

Project details

Grant amount £1,155,719
Grant type Special Project
Start Date 13 July 2014
Duration 4 years
Reference SP/13/1/30245
Status In progress

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