University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute seeking over 70s for STAREE clinical trial

STUDY: University of Newcastle researchers and registered nurses Jodie Lynch and Rachel Wilks. Picture: Marina Neil
STUDY: University of Newcastle researchers and registered nurses Jodie Lynch and Rachel Wilks. Picture: Marina Neil

Are you over 70-years-old, healthy and want to potentially help scientists discover how to prolong or prevent the onset of chronic disease? If so, a new clinical trial wants you.

The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) are seeking people from Cessnock and the Hunter to participate in STAREE - a government-funded, community-based clinical trial.

"We are looking to determine if a commonly prescribed heart medication is able to prolong or prevent the onset of chronic disease, namely heart disease and dementia/Alzheimer's in healthy 70-plus year olds," STAREE NSW senior clinical trial coordinator Rachel Wilks said.

The university and HMRI are working in collaboration with Monash University and other universities to conduct the study on 10,000 people Australia-wide. More than 500 participants have already signed up in the Hunter.

The trial is Federal Government-funded research into healthy ageing.

Ms Wilks said people aged over 70 have previously been very under-represented in clinical trials.

"The question being asked is whether a commonly prescribed medication, usually used to reduce cholesterol, is also able to prevent or prolong the onset of chronic disease in this age group, including dementia/Alzheimer's, depression, cancers along with heart disease and stroke," she said.

"Are we able to maintain a quality, independent life for our participants for longer to reduce the need for aged care placement?"

Eligible participants meet with the researchers at their local GP practice or a convenient local venue. They are asked questions about their health, other questions about their memory and thinking and have their observations taken.

Participants are randomised to the study medication or placebo and monitored for about five years, with biannual phone calls and a yearly catch-up, and phone support along the way.

"We follow up with our participants at their local GP surgery or at a convenient community venue," Ms Wilks said.

"Many of our participants have cared for family members and friends with dementia and Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases.

"They are very interested in maintaining their own good health, whilst giving back to their community through being involved in research".

If you are interested in being involved or would like more information, if you are aged 70 or over, with no history of heart attack, stroke or diabetes and do not currently take a statin medication, please call STAREE on 1800 770 664. STAREE is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time.