Dementia specialist aged care provider HammondCare is leading the Australian component of an international trial testing a drug that aims to slow down cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial is recruiting 450 people aged 60-85 living with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease across 12 sites nationally and will run for a minimum of 12 months.

It aims to demonstrate that the drug Anavex 2-73 shows benefits and improvements to those living with Alzheimer’s disease and to bring the drug to the market in the future.

The drug is a disease-modifying therapy and this trial follows promising results in an earlier Australian study, which achieved significant cognitive improvement in some participants.

This trial will test whether the drug can stabilise the progression of the disease, said Associate Professor Stephen Macfarlane, head of clinical services at HammondCare and principal investigator of the trial.

Professor Stephen Macfarlane

“It’s also important if we can slow the rate of cognitive decline to a meaningful degree,” Associate Professor Macfarlane told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Improvement is asking a lot from a brain that is significantly damaged by the time people first develop symptoms,” Professor Macfarlane said.

While the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown, damage to the brain from a build-up of toxin proteins is a theory, Professor Macfarlane said.

“We really need a drug that can impact on the course of the disease, not only to save lives but also save on future aged care costs,” Professor Macfarlane said.

“If the trial itself is successful and we come across a drug that modifies the course of the disease, it would be a complete game changer as far as aged care requirements go,” he said.

Previous findings

The trials are being run by American biopharmaceutical company Anavex Life Services and involved laboratory and animal testing in the first phase.

In Australia, the second phase of the trial, which commenced in 2015, involved 32 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease over a 12-month period across five sites in Melbourne.

A company sponsoring the new trial is working to determine the characteristics that differentiated participants who responded well to the drug compared to those who responded less well through genetic analysis and dosage amounts, Professor Macfarlane said.

“The new trial is designed to leverage those learnings from the earlier study and try to maximise the chances for success,” he said.

For many participants of the previous trial, their results at 12 months showed their cognitive status remained largely unchanged, he said.

Professor Macfarlane said some participants also regained functions previously lost, such as the ability to paint and play the piano while a person who re-sat the driving exam successfully regained their licence.

At the end of the study, participants requested an extension to continue to have access to the drug, which was granted.

In addition to this trial, Anavex received approval to earlier this week to also commence trialling the drug with people living with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Comment below to have your say on this story

Send us your news and tip-offs to editorial@australianageingagenda.com.au 

Subscribe to Australian Ageing Agenda magazine and sign up to the AAA newsletter

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. This drug is going to revolutionize the way we treat and cure Alz. How do I know? To give a hint: The piano player and the painter. Comparing the before and after personality is like living in the dark and looking at the early morning sunshine. Get ready for some real thrilling results mid way during the trial, especially as the participants are going to be selected and targeted by the drug using precision medicine.

  2. Robert, you wouldn’t be associated with the drug company involved in the trials in any way, would you?

  3. I’d like to know the follow up on Paul McMellon, he was one of the 32 patients back in 2015. See here in youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQCLsy7FnXQ&t=16s

    Did he at least maintain?

    It’s been 3 years now, if those 32 patients have maintained and did not deteriorate by now, then this would be significant. But I don’t see any report on this. If anybody can provide followup on Paul McMellon, or the piano player, or painter it would be newsworthy.

  4. Antia,

    To answer your question, I have seen and worked with those with CNS disease. I also have enough knowledge of Biochemistry and advanced degree in statistics and multivariate analysis to analyze and infer medical data. Try to link mitochondria health and the mechanism of A 2-73 and you will be enlightened. Also, I am looking at the use of Coconut / MCT oil (C8) to beat mild AD / halt advanced AD. So, I am associated with anything that is promising in AD/PD and MCI condition and hoping that there is going to be a cure soon. May be Australia will be the first in the world to approve AD drug.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.