Roskamp Institute researchers have reported that the drug Nilvadipine demonstrated an ability to slow-down early-stage Alzheimer’s disease in a clinical study.

The data from the trial showed that early-stage Alzheimer’s patients who were taking Nilvadipine showed less cognitive decline over an 18-month period than patients treated with placebo.

The study also found that the use of language was better preserved after treatment with the drug in patients with mild Alzheimer’s, which is a slightly more advanced stage.

According to the institute, there was a 50% reduction in the rate of decline of the overall mental ability of very early-stage patients who were given Nilvadipine.

Headed by Dr Brian Lawlor at Trinity College Dublin, the new study was a follow up of data collected by Roskamp Institute scientists with a European network of collaborators in a study called NILVAD.

Roskamp Institute executive director Michael Mullan said: “Understanding how this drug may be beneficial in very early-stage patients is obviously important for further development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

“The development of drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease has been fraught with multiple late-stage clinical failures, but one area of consensus which has emerged is that for effectiveness of many experimental drugs the treatment must start very early in the disease process.”

Researchers found in another study that the drug can lower the levels of two toxic proteins in the brains of mice. The proteins, namely amyloid and tau, are said to develop Alzheimer pathology.

These findings are consistent with those in the human clinical trial.

In the study, the examination of cerebrospinal fluid samples from Alzheimer patients suggested that the improved mental functioning was associated with increased release of toxic amyloid out of the brain.

Nilvadipine was previously used to treat hypertension in Europe and Japan.