25 November 2019
News Category: 
Patient and health stories

The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has joined in a major international trial investigating the link between Chinese herbs and dementia.

This phase III clinical trial – now recruiting for participants at RMH – is investigating the efficacy and safety of a standardised Chinese herbal formula, Sailuotong (SLT) for vascular dementia or mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s disease with cerebrovascular disease).

SLT, a complex combination of ginseng, ginkgo and saffron extracts, has been scientifically developed and tested by a combined team from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University.

The primary end point of the treatment is to try reduce decline in cognition and memory with dementia patients. The trial will be testing whether those who take the active drug decline slower than those on placebo.

Worldwide, 47.5 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year. In Australia, there is a new case of dementia every six minutes.

Over 342,000 Australians are living with dementia and about 20 to 30 per cent of dementia cases are thought to be vascular dementia.

Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi, clinical trial principal investigator and neurologist at the RMH said the trial is exciting because there are very few interventional trials available for people with vascular dementia because they are often excluded from Alzheimer’s disease trials.

“The important thing about testing the treatment in a really rigorous form like a clinical trial is that we can inform patients using high level evidence whether or not this is an appropriate treatment for their condition” A/Prof Yassi said.

SLT has already shown to have positive benefits to those with dementia with the phase II randomized controlled double-blind trial taking place across 16 centres across China.

The Chinese study included 325 participants and suggests SLT as an effective treatment for vascular dementia, improving cognition and daily functioning in Chinese patients with mild-to-moderate vascular dementia. The results reported improved functioning in multiple domains, such as memory, orientation, language and executive function after 26 weeks of SLT treatment.

Chief Investigator of the Australian Phase III trial, Professor Dennis Chang, from NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, said: “these promising results are highly significant, as current available treatment options for vascular dementia are very limited. If the present Australian clinical trial is successful, SLT will be an effective frontline treatment for thousands of people across the world with vascular dementia.”

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