Canadian collaboration to fund anti-hypertensive drugs for Alzheimer’s disease research


A new funding collaboration to support a clinical trial investigating the potential for hypertension drugs to slow Alzheimer’s disease progression has been announced between The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation of Canada and The W Garfield Weston Foundation. The trial will be led by Sandra Black (Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto) and the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance at the University of Toronto, Canada.

“Hypertension has been suggested to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease for almost 30 years, yet we have not adequately translated this knowledge into the clinic for the benefit of patients. Black’s study will begin to address this important issue in a novel study design, investigating the possibility that some anti-hypertensive agents may also be neuroprotective,” says Howard Fillit, executive director and chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “We are grateful to The W Garfield Weston Foundation for their collaboration in funding this important work.”

According to a press release, different classes of anti-hypertensive drugs may have different effects on the brain beyond blood pressure control. In the study, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) will be compared for the treatment of hypertension in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. ARBs, but not ACEIs, have been shown to both improve cognition in animal studies and interfere with disease processes involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials designed to directly compare these two anti-hypertensive drug classes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease have not yet been performed.

“Our exploratory clinical study will compare ARBs vs. ACEIs in a ‘face-off’ to slow brain degeneration in people with Alzheimer’s disease who are already taking medications to control blood pressure,” says Black, the executive director of the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance and research programme director at Sunnybrook Research Institute at the University of Toronto. “We will use brain imaging, and measure cognition and quality of life over a one year period to compare the rate of brain shrinkage in the people on ACEIs vs. ARBs.”

Funding for this trial, which will cost US$992,388, was made possible through a grant by The W Garfield Weston Foundation.

“With a new mandate to accelerate the development of safe and effective breakthrough treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, The W Garfield Weston Foundation is pleased to support Black’s compelling research through Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation,” adds W Galen Weston, chairman and president of The W Garfield Weston Foundation.