According to latest figures, the number of drug trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease across the globe has almost doubled since 2013¹. In the UK, there are now 19 drug studies investigating potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other dementias², testing treatments that aim to be the first to slow or stop the progression of the disease.

With no new drugs to treat dementia in over a decade and an estimated 850,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia, research into medicines that can potentially delay progression of the condition is much needed. The increase in new trials means that researchers are urgently seeking more people with memory problems to take part.

Join Dementia Research is accelerating this vital research by finding suitable study participants and is looking for more volunteers with dementia to register, as well as people without dementia who are experiencing early memory problems. Changes in the brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s can start many years before symptoms show, so studying people with mild memory problems gives researchers the best chance of understanding how dementia develops and finding ways to stop it.

Innovative trials recruiting through Join Dementia Research

The latest drug study to be added to Join Dementia Research is called ENGAGE, from Biogen Inc. This international study is looking to determine whether a new investigational medication, Aducanumab, can slow progression of early Alzheimer’s disease and also whether it’s safe to use in patients.

Professor Craig Ritchie is Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh and Chief Investigator in the ENGAGE study. He said:

Professor Craig Ritchie

Professor Craig Ritchie

“Dementia research is critically important, not least because of the huge number of people it affects. Although we have some drugs that manage some of the symptoms of dementia, we have a long way to go in terms of modifying the course of the disease. However, only by conducting high quality research will we be able to get conclusive evidence and move treatments forward. To do this research we’re relying on people who are experiencing the very earliest stages of memory problems to come forward and offer to take part.”


There are currently 72 studies recruiting through Join Dementia Research, including several clinical trials, such as:

  • The Amaranth study, testing whether a new drug can slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease by slowing the production of beta-amyloid, a protein known to build up in the brain in the disease.
  • The RADAR trial (Reducing pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease through Angiotensin taRgeting), looking at whether losartan, a commonly-used treatment for high blood pressure (hypertension), could also be effective at slowing progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers believe losartan can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by improving brain blood flow and altering chemical pathways that cause brain cell damage, brain shrinkage and memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease.


Volunteers needed for dementia trials

To date, 19,793 people have registered with Join Dementia Research, and 5,498 taken part in research studies. Despite this, more people with dementia and memory problems are being asked to come forward.

Wendy Mitchell, who has young onset dementia, is taking part in research studies, including a drug trial aiming to determine whether an antibiotic is effective in reducing the rate of cognitive and functional decline. Wendy explains why she’s volunteered:

Wendy Mitchell

Wendy Mitchell

“There currently is no cure and without willing volunteers to try out new drugs there will continue to be no cure. Taking part in research is my way of feeling useful again and contributing to finding that elusive treatment which in turn will create a better world for my children.”


Dr Simon Ridley, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, comments on the latest figures:

“Clinical trials are an essential part of delivering any new treatment to patients and volunteers are essential for these important studies to get off the ground. It’s promising to see so many new clinical trials for potential new dementia treatments starting in the UK, but the challenge now is to support those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias to take part. Anyone who is experiencing memory problems or has a diagnosis of dementia should be given the opportunity to take part in research as early as possible and Join Dementia Research provides a mechanism to do that.”

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, adds:

“222,000 people will develop dementia this year alone – that’s one person every three minutes. The development of treatments that can slow or halt the progression of the condition will undoubtedly mark a turning point in the way dementia is managed, but this can’t be done without people who have memory and thinking problems, or early-stage dementia, to help test these potential new treatments.”



1. Search conducted on on 15 July 2016, showed 194 open trials (Search criteria – Interventional (drug) studies phase 1-3, with ongoing (not unknown) status). Comparison to search on 8 July 2013, which showed 99 trials, cited in Alzheimer’s Society Dementia 2014 report, page 47
2. Search conducted on on 15 July 2016, showed 19 open trials (Search criteria – Interventional (drug) studies phase 1-3, with ongoing (not unknown) status, in the United Kingdom).

Lady-LookingatleafletYou can see if you are eligible for the studies mentioned, and others, by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.

If you’ve not yet registered with Join Dementia Research, why not sign up today?