Summit on dementia research

  • Posted

Posted 10/10/2012

A Government-hosted summit on research into dementia will, it is hoped, help to renew what is thought to be a loss of interest in the condition in the pharmaceutical industry. Two big trials of possible drug therapies disappointingly failed to show the benefits that had been hoped, and led to fears that companies would withdraw from efforts to find better treatments.  

It is estimated that some 800,000 people in the UK have dementia with numbers growing fast. It is said that one in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia, leading to an urgent call for more funding into the condition. More is understood about the presentation of dementia but not about the causes and possible treatment. There are over 150 more trials going on into treating those in late stage cancer than into Alzheimer’s, despite the universal and growing prevalence of this condition.

Trefine Maynard, a clinical negligence solicitor at Ashtons Legal, says: “Dementia is a devastating disease not just for the patient but for all their family. Our population is growing older fast and this condition is growing with it. Yet it does not attract the sympathy in the way that conditions like cancer do.

Government ministers say they will use the summit to suggest that the UK’s huge range of universities and NHS facilities provide a perfect platform for research and the prime minister has launched a ‘Challenge on Dementia’ initiative. I fear, however, that despite the fine words, in today’s economic climate and given the commercial imperatives of the huge pharmaceutical companies, dementia is becoming a ‘forgotten’ area of research. Perhaps realisation of the size of the problem will prompt renewed research into treatment possibilities and perhaps the huge advances into the understanding of how the brain works will fuel further advances into this insidious and devastating condition.”


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