Christchurch medical research centre, the CGM Research Trust, is tackling one of medicine’s most elusive problems: the quest for a safe sleep aid for people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Christchurch-based centre is the only clinical trial site in New Zealand taking part in a global research project to test a new medication that, if successful, could address Alzheimer’s-related sleep issues safely and effectively.
Canterbury people are already taking part in the study, joining hundreds of others around the globe who will stay overnight in a research lab having their sleep monitored, and take either the medication being trialled or a placebo, for up to two months.
Dr Nigel Gilchrist of the CGM Research Trust, is hoping more people will join them in the coming weeks.
"Cantabrians have traditionally been very keen to be involved in helping us advance Alzheimer’s knowledge. Approximately 45% of patients with Alzheimer’s are affected by sleep problems, and disturbed sleep can have a huge impact on their lives and health, as well as those of families and caregivers. So this is a study that a great number of patients and families will be interested in."
Disturbed or poor sleep worsens memory problems and can lead to a host of other problems, such as depression, heart conditions and decreased immune function for patients and partners alike.
Current available medications are far from ideal and can make Alzheimer’s worse.
"What is needed," says Dr Gilchrist, "Is a medication that is safe for use in Alzheimer’s patients, which can be active in the night, but not make them drowsy the next day."
To take part in this trial, people with Alzheimer’s Disease and sleep difficulties, need to have a ‘study partner’ who can come with them to appointments and provide information about the patient’s sleeping patterns. Participants also have to meet a range of clinical criteria.
"People who take part may get the medication or they may get a placebo," says Dr Gilchrist. "However, everybody receives study-related medical care and monitoring. Participants are also reimbursed for study-related costs."
Places in the trial are limited. Those who are interested in learning more can contact the Trust directly, or visit the CGM Research Trust Facebook page to get in touch.