Development & Alumni Relations Office 


1 August 2017

Queen’s University is taking part in a UK-wide trial to investigate whether a drug normally used to treat high blood pressure could also slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia.

The multi-centre clinical trial is being led by the University of Bristol in partnership with Queen’s University, University of Cambridge and the University of London and will investigate if losartan, a blood pressure drug that first became available in 1995, can complement current treatments for AD.

Almost half a million people in the UK have Alzheimer's and researchers believe losartan can slow down the progression of the disease by improving brain blood flow and altering chemical pathways that cause brain cell damage, brain shrinkage and memory problems.

The trial known as RADAR (Reducing pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease through Angiotensin taRgeting), is hoping to recruit approximately 230 participants across the UK – including at least 10 in Northern Ireland – together with a similar number of carers.  

Professor Peter Passmore at Queen’s Centre for Public Health said: “The scientific evidence is there but we now need people with Alzheimer's disease to come forward and offer to take part as their involvement is essential to helping scientists find out if losartan could be a future treatment.”

As part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, funding of nearly £2m was awarded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, a Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) partnership. 

The RADAR study is a double blinded placebo-controlled randomised trial, meaning that some participants will be randomly assigned to receive either the study drug or a placebo and nobody will know until the end who received which. This is one of the most powerful study designs available.

People with Alzheimer’s disease who have high or normal blood pressure can take part if they meet certain eligibility criteria and RADAR will use brain imaging to measure whether losartan reduces the rate of brain shrinkage that is known to occur in AD.  It will also be using what are standard questionnaires on memory performance and quality of life – important indicators of whether the drug might be helpful.

The Alzheimer's Society welcomed the trial and said losartan is known to be safe. Head of research Dr James Pickett added: “No new drug for Alzheimer’s has been approved in the past 14 years.

“Testing drugs like this one, which we already know is safe, is a great approach, as it significantly reduces the time it could take to reach patients if it were effective.

“We're already using this approach by funding studies into arthritis and diabetes drugs.”

The group of researchers are using Join Dementia Research to help with recruitment to the study. The Join Dementia Research service allows anyone with and without dementia to sign up using basic demographic and health information and to be matched to dementia research studies in their area. Research teams can then approach potential volunteers about their particular study and the volunteer can decide whether to take part on a case-by-case basis.

People can sign up to Join Dementia Research to see if they are a potential match to the RADAR study either online at or Alzheimer’s Research UK, tel 0300 111 5 111. 

Media inquiries to Suzanne Lagan Queen’s Communications Office, tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5292.

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