New Research Network to Enhance Dementia Care, Outcomes and Offer Access to Clinical Trials

Dementia Trials Ireland (DTI) is an exciting new dementia research network that will offer, every person in Ireland living with or at risk of dementia, the opportunity to access clinical trials. Over 65,000 people in Ireland are living with the condition.

happy older man with general practioner

Involving both lay and professional members of Ireland’s dementia community, Dementia Trial Ireland aims to significantly increase the capacity and capability to successfully undertake clinical trials across the range of stages of dementia from preclinical to advanced stage and different types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and others.

GBHI faculty members Iracema Leroi and Seán Kennelly are principal investigator and co-lead of the project which is funded by the Health Research Board for five years.

To date, only a few centers in Ireland have conducted dementia trials, meaning that only a handful of people with dementia have had the opportunity to participate in a study and access a potentially important treatment. This needs to change. Ireland must take its place at the international table of those changing the landscape for dementia treatment. This is the only way that people in Ireland will have early access to new treatments when they at last start emerging.

DTI will support a range of trials: from social and creative arts interventions such as dance therapy to complex drug interventions. It will include all members of the dementia community, healthy volunteers, people with dementia and caregivers, working towards the common goal of improving the lives of Ireland’s residents at risk of, or living with dementia.

Iracema Leroi, DTI lead, GBHI faculty member and Associate Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at Trinity College said:

“In the past 25 years nearly all the clinical trials for new dementia drugs have not been successful. In most fields this would cause profound nihilism. However, the overwhelming need for trials, and the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, demands that we in the dementia community continue seeking a solution. Giving up is not an option. In Ireland, we talk a lot about ‘brain health’ and ‘dementia prevention’, however our ability to arrest progression of dementia remains inadequate. Hence, clinical trials must continue. We need more trials, more interventions to trial, and more people volunteering to participate in trials.”

Seán Kennelly, GBHI faculty member, consultant physician, Tallaght University Hospital, Clinical Associate Professor of Medical Gerontology and Director of the Institute for Memory and Cognition and DTI co-lead said:

“This is how cancer drugs have succeeded so well, and this is the only way we can move forward as a dementia community." National and regional infrastructures to support clinical trials for cancer have dramatically improved survival rates, showing that research works. "We are at a really important intersection where we’re learning more all the time about the biology that’s causing these dementia syndromes and as result are increasing the repertoire of agents to treat or even potentially prevent them happening in the future.”

You can learn more about Dementia Trials Ireland on the following link: