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PM Leads New Fight Against Dementia


The Prime Minister is speaking at London’s Guildhall on plans to encourage research into drugs to help fight dementia. Advancement on treatments for dementia is desperately needed.

At the moment there are over 800,000 people in the UK and 36 million people in the world suffering from dementia and numbers are increasing year on year. One in 14 people over the age of 65 suffer from dementia and one in six over the age of 80 has a form of the disease.

The word dementia covers a range of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, language and problem solving. The disease is progressive and patients will gradually get worse. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia but there are other types.

Today’s G8 summit at London’s Guildhall is looking at dementia research and care. The G8 is made up of leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and America and today’s meeting sees around 350 senior political leaders plus a number of specialists and representatives from international institutions investigating what can be done.

David Cameron is announcing plans to help encourage research into dementia drugs and will be calling for a big bold global push.

The key areas are to encourage investment and research and also to give patients earlier access to new drugs. There is also a call for faster and cheaper clinical trials for dementia drugs.

At the moment there is no cure, although a few medicines which may help prevent symptoms from getting worse have been authorised for use.

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (such as Donepezil) are sometimes used to help treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s although these can cause side effects such as nausea and a slower heartbeat. Memantine hydrochloride is sometimes used to treat severe Alzheimer’s by blocking the effects of certain chemicals in the brain. Antipsychotics can be used to treat challenging behaviour or high levels of aggression or agitation but again there are side effects. Antidepressants may be used to help the symptoms.

But generally treatment at the moment for dementia is extremely limited and vigorous ongoing research is desperately needed. Finance is key to help fund this research and this is one of the aims of the G8 meeting and indeed of David Cameron’s speech.

De Dennis Gillings is the world dementia envoy and says that just as the world joined together to fight HIV and aids, regulation now needs to be freed up so that new drugs can be tested. He is calling for clinical trials to be simplified and also for less demand on the sort of data required.

With serious commitment from leading countries to speed up the fight against dementia, it would be good to think some ground breaking new treatments will become available in the next few years.

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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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