This new study aims to assess whether a medication called Guanfacine can improve thinking, particularly attention, in people with Alzheimer’s Disease when given alongside other standard medication.

We caught up with Dr Paresh Malhotra, Chief Investigator on this study, to find out more:

What are the main aims of the study?

Dr Paresh Malhotra, Chief Investigator for this study

Dr Paresh Malhotra, Chief Investigator for this study

Guanfacine itself is licensed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. There is evidence from previous research to suggest that Guanfacine as an add-on therapy may have a greater effect in Alzheimer’s compared to standard medication alone. This study is a relatively new approach to treatment looking to improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.

What does it involve for a participant?

The study will begin with a screening visit where the participant will be assessed to see whether they would be suitable for the study and whether they would like to participate. From there they will be given Guanfacine or a placebo to take daily for the following 12 weeks.
There will be 5 visits to the Imperial Memory Unit at Charing Cross Hospital; 3 of the visits will last around 2 to 3 hours for tests of memory and attention (with breaks in between). The assessments will be pen-and-paper tasks and a short computerised attention test. The participant’s carer will also attend to fill in some questionnaires.

At every visit a check-up measuring blood pressure is done, the clinicians will ask about possible treatment side-effects, including sleepiness. There will be 2 follow-up telephone calls in between visits.

How long is the study for?

The participant will be taking a daily tablet for 12 weeks alongside their usual medication and will have 5 visits to Charing Cross Hospital over this period.

What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

Through this study we will find out if Guanfacine improves cognition in combination with standard treatment, hopefully there will eventually then be further opportunities for taking it long-term. This would lead to a new approach in treating this extremely common and devastating disease. The results are likely to be published in medical and scientific journals.

Where is the study based?

The study is based at Imperial College London, the location is Charing Cross Hospital – Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Who can take part?

This study is recruiting individuals with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, aged 45 years or older and currently taking one of the three main standard recommended medications (Donepezil, Galantamine or Rivastigmine).