by Michelle Henderson for Nine News:
Powerful new imaging technology will play a role in the largest-ever disease prevention trial in Australia.
The ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) study is investigating the risks and benefits of aspirin in healthy people over 70. The study involving 15,000 Australians and 4,000 people from the US hopes to discover whether a daily low dose of aspirin could help elderly people live well for longer.
New imaging technology at Monash Biomedical Imaging, which officially opened in Melbourne on Wednesday, will be used to undertake a second study associated with the larger trial. Prof John McNeil, head of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, said the technology now available would help researchers understand how aspirin works on the brain and carotid arteries.
The imaging would enable researchers to observe the thickening of the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels leading to the brain, he said.
Prof McNeil said the technology, including a more powerful Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, could also help scientists understand the effect of aspirin on strokes.
About 1,000 people among the 6,500 Australians who have been recruited to the larger trial have volunteered to undergo imaging.
Prof McNeil said he hoped a further 500 would volunteer. The brain imaging study will get underway in September.
A low dose of aspirin is known to reduce the risk of secondary heart attack or stroke, but is can also have adverse effects such as increased bleeding.
A Danish study published this week found aspirin was linked to a reduced risk of some skin cancers, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.