Photo: Alex StaffordAt 47, Fiona Crawford lives by the researcher's maxim that staying fit lowers the risk of getting Alzheimer's. “I stay physically active. I'm obviously blessed; my job keeps me extremely mentally active.”
Scientists in recent weeks have been rolling out breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research: A tie to mouth bacteria, for instance, and a study that showed intensive treatment to reduce high blood pressure cut the chance of early cognitive troubles compared to regular blood pressure treatment.
In “Brain Trust” — Florida Trend profiled Sarasota-based Roskamp Institute and its research into a well-established blood pressure medication it thought could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. Institute executive director Dr. Michael Mullan said last week that a trial of the drug, called Nilvadipine, in low doses in Europe showed promise in cutting the rate of decline in some individuals with Alzheimer’s. “They were still progressing over the 18 months of the study but they were doing it at half the rate of individuals on the placebo,” he says. But the overall population of study subjects — a mixed group of mild and moderate disease sufferers — didn’t show enough improvement.
Mullan says the institute is trying to raise funding for a second trial, this time focused on individuals in the early stages of disease and this time using a stronger dose. A trend in Alzheimer’s research globally is to focus on individuals showing only early stage-symptoms or no symptoms. He says there’s a form of the drug that doesn’t lower blood pressure and so could be given in higher doses without causing people to be dizzy or faint. In mice models, it’s effective, “which suggests it’s not about lowering the blood pressure. It’s having another affect that doesn’t have anything to do with blood pressure.”
The findings from the latest research getting attention nationally aren’t surprising, he says. “We’ve known for a long time that high blood pressure increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” he says.