There’s an injection that represses Alzheimer’s disease and could be available in three years but it will cost the NHS billions and there are presently 12 drugs which can delay or prevent dementia and are in the last stages of experimentation.
The shot acts by decreasing the level of toxic protein in the brain and if one is shown to be successful, the initial treatment could be in the making as quickly as 2021 but the NHS may struggle to finance it.
Furthermore, calculations suggest it would cost £2.7 billion to treat the 850,000 Britons with dementia and if the shot is given to all over-50s in the United Kingdom as has been proposed by leading medics the yearly bill would be about £9.4 billion.
With over one million people assumed to be living with dementia by 20205, there is a responsibility to ensure that people with dementia and their families can benefit from discoveries in new treatments in the coming years.
However, there are plenty of hurdles that could influence the roll-out of impending dementia treatments in the NHS and the availability of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, is a when and not an if, and patients are desperate for a new treatment and when the media announce any evidence of a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, clinics will then be flooded.
When there are successful experiments, there will be headline news throughout the world and the demand will be immediate and immense but presently, there is no disease-modifying treatment available that can change the development of Alzheimer’s.
All that most sufferers can pray for is something like that, something that waters down the manifestations of this mortifying disease. However, the 12 drugs that are supposedly coming through the pharma pipeline are disease changing.
Usually, they all work the same way, by targeting viscous clusters of beta-amyloid, a protein building block that stores in the brain and is believed to trigger the death of neurons.
To be most productive, such drugs would have to be given as quickly as possible, when the first indications of mild dementia are showing themselves or even before and the investigation has revealed that the seeds of Alzheimer’s may start to develop in the brain 15 or more years before any manifestations develop.
Recognising patients who qualify for the treatments will need better diagnostics. However, these are quickly being developed, moving from brain scans and spinal fluid tests to blood tests and the combination of more efficient diagnostics and medicines will hugely boost the number of patients suitable for treatment.
Many vaccine-like treatments which operate more like a statin for the brain than a real vaccine are currently at an earlier platform of development, undergoing Phase I and II trials and they could possibly be given to fit people with a family chronicle of Alzheimer’s, or even an entire population of people in middle age.
It wouldn’t be an overnight situation where everybody at 50 has a treatment like this, but that is where it’s thought on going to in the long term.