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27th January 2020 Latest News

Chinese herb treatment to fight vascular dementia

Ed Donovan is living with dementia

Imagine you or a loved one being diagnosed with a disease and told there is no treatment.

No hope, often no follow-up appointments, nothing.

That is the reality for 15-20 per cent of all dementia sufferers who are diagnosed with vascular dementia, a type of dementia caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain.

But now, with a new trial being run out of the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s (RAH) Clinical Trials Centre, there is hope.

The trial is testing a new treatment called Sailuotong, which consists of three Chinese herbs (Ginseng, Ginkgo and Saffron) which are thought to reduce inflammation in the brain.

Kathy Robinson, Memory Trials Manager at the RAH, said the trial could provide great hope for patients and families if the medications proved to have positive effects.

“Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease,” Kathy said. “The risk of vascular dementia increases with age, and so does the risk of disability associated with it.”

Risk factors for developing vascular dementia include untreated high blood pressure or irregular heart rhythms that can dislodge clots that travel to the brain and cause strokes.

“When there is injury to the brain, such as with stroke, there’s inflammation. These herbs are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties so we hope to see improvement in diminished functions within the brain such as memory, judgement, reasoning, problem solving etc.

“The fantastic thing about this trial is that it’s a herbal product. It’s natural so it is expected that there might be less side effects than conventional medical treatment.”

Kathy said vascular dementia was a heartbreaking disease for loved ones as they sometimes saw their family member take on uncharacteristic behavioural problems and aggression.

“It would be great to find a treatment for this group of people because at the moment there is nothing.

“If you have a loved one who is diagnosed with any type of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and would like to discuss participation in trials, please give us a call on (08) 7074 3284.”

Giving hope through clinical trials!

Established with funding from The Hospital Research Foundation and AusHealth, the RAH’s Clinical Trials Centre is giving hope to hundreds of South Australians suffering from disease and illness.

The world-class centre offers excellent facilities, with participants seen in a quiet peaceful environment. There are multiple specialists who provide input and participants are supported with any difficulties they may have during and for a period after the trial.

Kathy was very grateful for THRF’s support of the Clinical Trials Centre as without it, the Memory Trials Unit would be struggling.

“We had nowhere to go until the Clinical Trials Centre was built! We’re so grateful to The Hospital Research Foundation for providing a significant amount of funding towards construction of the centre and helping us to continue to offer clinical trial options for people with dementia and early stage memory problems.”

Giving hope to Ed and Wendy

When Ed Donovan was first diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment eight years ago, which has since developed into Alzheimer’s disease, there were few options for treatment.

Along with loving wife Wendy, the couple was keen to slow the memory loss as much as possible, so when they were told about a new clinical trial available through the RAH’s Memory Loss Unit, they jumped at the chance.

“It gives us hope that eventually there could be a cure or at least a slowness of the affects,” Wendy said.

“The alternative is nothing. We’re very lucky to be involved in a trial that, years ago, wouldn’t have been a possibility.”

Ed spent his working life as a maths, science and physics teacher, so failing to recall facts and figures hits the couple hard. Wendy though, thinks the trial has been working.

“I don’t think his condition has progressed as much as it would have. And as a carer, it means I also get great support and care because I can have a chat to Kathy and all the ladies.”

Click here to join the fight and support world-leading clinical trials.