Australian Monash University, known for its pioneering work on aspirin and its therapeutic applications, has been commissioned by the US National Institutes of Health to probe aspirin’s anti-dementia powers.
Dementia or memory loss in a person is a major threat to the elderly people and Monash University in Melbourne has reportedly begun a A$50 million (US $41 million) clinical trial called “ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly” (ASPREE), Xinhua reported.
The research has been taken up jointly by the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in Minneapolis in the US and Monash University with more than 19,000 Australian patients roped in for the trial ASPREE, a randomised, placebo controlled trial in older people.
Aspirin is also known for its properties to stop blood platelets clumping together, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Its main ingredient, salicin has an anti-inflammatory effect and is derived from willow trees.
The results of Australia’s largest clinical trial will be revealed by 2018 whether healthy older people should or should not take aspirin to prevent or delay cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, besides its effect on reducing dementia, depression and some types of cancers.
Principal Investigator of the trial, Professor John McNeil, said 16,500 Australian volunteers, aged between 70 and 97 years, have been recruited so far. In Australia, ASPREE trial will be conducted through general practice in south-eastern states and territory and participants will be randomly allocated to take daily 100mg aspirin or a matching placebo tablet, undergoing annual health checks until late 2017.
Praising the participants, Prof. McNeil said, “Without the community mindedness of each and every participant in the study, we could not have reached this remarkable milestone. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to help improve the health and medical care for future generations.”
Explaining further, he said, “If aspirin is shown to be overall beneficial, thousands of healthy older people around the world will be advised to take the drug; if aspirin is proven not to be beneficial, thousands will be saved from taking an unnecessary medication.”
Additional results in 2018 will be from ancillary studies that investigate the effect of aspirin on: age-related macular degeneration, cancer, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, severe infection, sleep apnoea, age-related hearing loss and microvascular changes in the brain.
Australia’s first Healthy Ageing Biobank, a repository of blood samples from more than 11,500 ASPREE participants, has been set up to help researchers identify blood-borne predictors of disease, such as Alzheimer’s, or even good health.