Dan Parton (12/06/12)believes the 'Holy Grail' is within sight with a bit more investment:
A news story appeared last week that will give hope to the 800,000 or so people in the UK with dementia, and to all their families and carers - a potential vaccine for Alzheimer's disease may be on the way.
The story [readin full here] highlighted work by Swedish scientists, who have found that a potential vaccine for Alzheimer's is safe to use on humans, which should give the green light for more widespread trials.
Finding a cure for Alzheimer's is already one of medicine's'holy grails' and, according to the World Health Organisation, withthe global number of people with the condition set to triple to115.4 million by 2050, there is an even more urgent need for newtreatments. If a treatment that can prevent, stop orsignificantly slow the progress of dementia is found, the effectswould be huge, not only in helping people with the condition tolive better for longer - something on which you cannot put a price- but also in the savings that would be made in the health andsocial care sectors.
According to recent figures, dementia is estimated to cost theUK £23 billion per year - although how these statistics are workedout is anyone's guess, and I always take them with a pinch of salt- anything that can eat into sums of that order needs to beurgently and thoroughly investigated. Sadly, in times ofrecession scientific research is often an area of funding that iscut, as those in charge of the purse-strings focus on fields thatmake additions to the bottom line in the shorter-term.
But since this research has incredible potential value,including extensive cost-saving, its funding should be increased,rather than cut. Indeed, Dr Simon Ridley, head of research atAlzheimer's Research UK has recently called for "huge investment"in research so that more potential treatments can be givenwidespread trials. Hearteningly, the Government has recognised thevalue of research into dementia and recently said that investmentin it is set to more than double to £66 million by 2015 [fullstory here] a move which was widely welcomed at the time bydementia charities.
But this base needs to be built on. Around the world there arenumerous potential treatments for dementia in various stages ofdevelopment and trial. While many may not make it to market, somewill and, amongst them, might be the treatment that really doesmake a difference to people with dementia. That treatment shouldnot run the risk of foundering due to a lack of investment; thefuture costs - both human and monetary - will be just too great tobear.