SCIENTISTS trying to win the battle against Alzheimer’s could be on the brink of a major breakthrough but they need the help of Southampton volunteers if they are going to succeed.

The Alzheimer’s Society is appealing for more volunteers to come forward to take part in a vital clinical trial which is taking place in the city over the next three years.

The aim of the trial will be to see whether the diabetic drug liraglutide would have benefits for people suffering with dementia.

But volunteers in the early stages of dementia are needed to work with the University of Southampton to be given either the drug or a placebo for a year to see what effect it has.

If the trial is successful, liraglutide could become a new treatment for Alzheimer’s within the next five to ten years, benefitting many of the estimated 800,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease in the UK, as well as the estimated 2,574 in Southampton.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Developing new drugs from scratch can take 20 years and hundreds of millions of pounds. We owe it to the 800,000 people with dementia in the UK to do everything we can to accelerate the process.

“Our focus on repurposing existing drugs as dementia treatments is an incredibly exciting way of bringing new treatments closer.

“Early evidence shows that this drug, which we already know is safe for people to use, could potentially reverse the biological causes of Alzheimer’s even in the late stages.

“We now hope that by funding this exciting new trial we can bring it closer to a position where it could one day be improving the lives of people with dementia.”

Participants in the clinical trial will have their brain scanned at the start of the experiment and after 12 months to look for changes in brain glucose, inflammation and brain volume, all indicators of Alzheimer’s.

Annette Stevens, a mental health nurse working at the Memory Assessment and Research Centre in Moorgreen, Southampton, added: “Our site will be recruiting to this trial for at least another year and visits to us will include regular physical health checks, as well as monitoring of the participants memory for the duration of the trial, which many individuals and their loved ones find very reassuring, supportive and valuable.

“Without volunteers to participate, this potential new drug cannot move forward. All participants in a trial are of vital importance to developing new treatments .”

To find out more about participating in the trial call 0208 383 3704.