Science

Dementia cure not an unrealistic goal, top researcher says

There could be a ‘standard toolbox' to treat the condition within a decade, a neuroscientist has said.

Developing a cure for dementia is “not an unrealistic goal” and could happen by 2028, the head of a research institute into the disease said.

Professor Bart De Strooper, a world-renowned Belgian neuroscientist, became director of the £250 million Dementia Research Institute (DRI) in 2016, and said there could be a “standard toolbox” for treating patients within a decade.

This could include genetic therapies or drugs known as anti-amyloids which fight against the presence of a protein called amyloid beta, which accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Society said there are an estimated 850,000 people with the disease in the UK, with this number set to surpass a million by 2025.

Prof De Strooper told the Daily Express: “I think we will have a cure. In 10 years we will have a cure. I hope earlier.

“You start to see biochemical changes about 20 years before dementia manifests itself so if you could stabilise the disease in this insidious phase then that would be very good, that would also be a cure.

Student nurse figures
Medics hope early intervention could help curb dementia (Lynne Cameron/PA)

“It’s a bit like with cancer, you don’t hope to treat the patient when the cancer has taken over the body, you want to treat it in the beginning when you have limited trouble.”

Nearly 300 researchers are working across six universities as part of the DRI to find an effective way of treating the causes of dementia rather than masking symptoms.

Adrian Ivinson, DRI chief operating officer, told the paper that researchers were hopeful about creating a blood test for dementia which could be used as part of a national screening programme.

He said: “We don’t have a blood test yet but that is what we are hoping for and where we are heading.

“Some of the big programmes within the institute are focused on that.

“It might be a few years but it’s a realistic prospect.”

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