New treatments for dementia could be a decade away, says leading academic

Researchers could be at the cusp of a "new era" according to biologist from University College London

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New treatments for dementia could be developed within the next decade, according to a leading academic. 

It will be clear “in the coming year” whether researchers are at the “beginning of a new era” for medical advances into Alzheimer’s, University College London biologist Professor John Hardy has said.

The award-winning academic told an audience at the Royal Society in London that if incoming drug trial results are “positive” researchers will be on target for developing therapies for 2025. 

Some 850,000 people currently live with dementia in the UK. The term is an umbrella term used to describe degenerative conditions which can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking and language, with Alzheimer’s being the most common form. 

The Azlheimer’s Society predicts that by 2025 one million people will have dementia.

As the condition largely affects older people, finding treatments is vital in order to aid the ageing population.

Progress into understanding what triggers Parkinson’s disease has also been “remarkable” he added.

“When you are on the right road, you put your foot on the accelerator and you can go quicker, so those results are key,” he said. 

"In the coming year we will know if we are already at the start of a new era of better treatments for slowing or stopping the development of Alzheimer's disease and allied neurodegenerative disorders, or if current research strategies should be refocused."

Drugs currently being trialled aim to target the amyloid beta which gather to form plaque in the brain. Scientists believe the disturbances this causes could trigger dementia.

Researchers hope that drugs could manipulate antibodies to tackle the plaque, and treat early stage dementia patients.

Alzheimer's Disease UK Research director Simon Ridley said: "If primary prevention improvements can be maintained at the same rate as that achieved in the past 20 years, they alone may generate savings of £5 billion or more a year by the 2030s."

Additional reporting by PA