An 18-month human drug trial, which may be groundbreaking for sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease, will begin this May, 2013.

The international medical trial will involve nine countries and is being co-ordinated by Irish medical researcher, Professor Brian Lawlor who is also the Connolly Norman professor of old age psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, and consultant psychiatrist at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Professor Lawlor won EU funding for the trial 18 months ago and has since built a research team which includes Alzheimer’s experts in Dublin, Cork, London, Gothenburg, Nimijen, Milan, Thessaloniki, Szeged, and Ulm. The expert team have been given nearly $8 million by the European Community’s seventh framework program research budget to test the drug Nilvadipine, which is usually used in cases of cardiovascular disease for the moderation of blood pressure.

A pilot trial, previously run by Professor Lawlor and the Roskamp Institute in Florida, has shown that Nilvadipine is safe and may hold the key to treating Alzheimer’s.

Professor Lawlor has built a patient group of about 500 people, 100 of whom will be placed in Dublin and Cork. Those taking part in the trial have a mild to moderate level of the disease so that the trial can better determine the rate of its progression.

“We are trying to see does it alter the rate of progression of the disease,” Professor Lawlor explained, “Animal trials gave promising results and the earlier pilot trial did give an “efficacy signal as well,” the Irish Times reports.

This trial will be the first attempt to find a new drug treatment for Alzheimer’s since 2002.