Dementia is one of healthcare’s biggest challenges, but researchers are working harder than ever to find ways to make life easier for those affected by it. Is the tide turning?
With more people than ever being diagnosed with dementia, there has never been a greater need for new medications – but work to improve quality of life for those living with the debilitating condition is helping to us to turn a corner.
There are currently 850,000 people living with the condition in the UK but that figure is expected to rise to more than 2 million by 2050. Currently there are no curative treatments.
Tackling all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is seen as one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our time, but finally there is light on the horizon.
“Although we are still some time away from effective disease-modifying treatments being available to people living with dementia, the tide is turning, and dementia research is in the most promising position for years,” said Professor Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia at NHS England.
“For example, there are now double the number of clinical trials for dementia than there were just three years ago.”
One company investigating new ways to treat some of the symptoms associated with dementia is MAC Clinical Research, which runs clinical trial facilities at 7 sites in the UK.
“With an aging population, medications to help treat the symptoms of dementia are needed now more than ever.” said Maggie Adu, Head of Patient Recruitment at MAC.
MAC is focusing on developing ways to help people living with dementia manage the symptoms that impact on their everyday lives.
“Around 60% of people with dementia will develop delusions. Lewy body dementia is most often associated with hallucinations, but they can be present in all types, with an overall estimated prevalence of 20%,” said Maggie.
“Current treatments have a varying degree of effectiveness and there is a need to provide more options.”
In an attempt to bridge that gap, MAC is running a Phase III trial with an oral medication that is already approved to treat Parkinson’s disease psychosis, and the trial team hope that it will be able to reduce delusions and hallucinations in dementia too.
MAC is also investigating the effectiveness of another new oral medication that may help to treat agitation and aggression in Alzheimer’s.
“Statistics show that around 80% of patients show signs of agitation and aggression with an increase in prevalence as the disease progresses.
“The trial being run at MAC sites in Barnsley, Blackpool, Cannock, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester is a Phase III, 16-week study to assess this new medication that may help alleviate symptoms of agitation associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Maggie, adding that patients themselves had a huge role to play in helping to make new medications available.
“By participating in a clinical trial, people may be helping to contribute to the development of a new therapy that may help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” she said.
“In addition participants may also gain early access to a potential new treatment that could help their condition and they will receive extra care and support from our expert team of healthcare professionals.”
There’s a lot to gain from taking part in the fight against dementia, said Maggie.
If you are aged 50 or over and have a diagnosis of any type of dementia, or have concerns about your memory, click here to find out about clinic trials you could be eligible for.