Monday, 1 December 2014

World-first Aspirin Study Reaches New Milestone

Australia’s largest clinical trial is a step closer to revealing in 2018 whether healthy older people should or should not take aspirin to prevent or delay cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), dementia, depression and some types of cancers. ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly), a randomised, placebo controlled trial in older people, today reached its recruitment target of 19,000 participants in Australia and the US.

Led by Monash University and the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the US, the ASPREE trial will measure extended years of living free from physical and cognitive disability, to determine the benefits versus the risks of daily low-dose aspirin.

Principal Investigator to the trial in Australia, Professor John McNeil, credits the 16,500 Australian volunteers - aged between 70 and 97 years - as the true heroes of medical research.

"Without the community mindedness of each and every participant in the study, we could not have reached this remarkable milestone. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to help improve the health and medical care for future generations," said Professor McNeil.

“If aspirin is shown to be overall beneficial, thousands of healthy older people around the world will be advised to take the drug; if aspirin is proven not to be beneficial, thousands will be saved from taking an unnecessary medication.”

Additional results in 2018 will be from ancillary studies that investigate the effect of aspirin on: age-related macular degeneration, cancer, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, severe infection, sleep apnoea, age-related hearing loss and microvascular changes in the brain.

Of note is Australia’s first Healthy Ageing Biobank, a repository of blood samples from more than 11,500 ASPREE participants to help researchers identify blood-borne predictors of disease, such as Alzheimer’s, or even good health.

In Australia, ASPREE is primarily conducted through general practice in south-eastern states and territory. Participants are randomly allocated to take daily 100mg aspirin or a matching placebo tablet, undergoing annual health checks until late 2017.

For more information visit, @aspree_aus


In Australia, the ASPREE study is led by Professor John McNeil, Head of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Fifteen years ago he questioned whether aspirin's anti-inflammatory and 'blood- thinning' properties were the key to extending quality of life within an ageing population. A lack of research in healthy older people in the 1990's confirmed the need for a large scale primary prevention trial. Over the next decade, John’s department developed and refined the project, established a team of national and international collaborators, undertook feasibility studies and applied to multiple government research agencies for funding.

Late 2008, the NIA (National Institute on Aging in the USA) awarded USD$50million jointly to Monash University and the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the US to conduct the ASPREE study in both countries. Never before had the US invested such a large amount of public funds into Australian-based research. The Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) provided an additional $3.5 million to support regional participation in the trial and the CSIRO invested $3.4 million in the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank.

ASPREE employs more than 100 staff across south-eastern Australia and is supported by more than 2,000 Australian GP co-investigators to the trial.

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