Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good News for Alzheimer's Patients & Pratchett Fans

The BBC reports that:

UK scientists have developed a drug which may halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Trials of the drug, known as rember, in 321 patients showed an 81% difference in rate of mental decline compared with those not taking the treatment.

More human trials are needed, but it's good news for all concerned.

The Telegraph notes that:

The treatment can bring the “worst affected parts of the brain back to life” and scientists say it is twice as effective as any medication currently available.

They even suggested the drug works so well it might be given to patients in the future to prevent the onset of the illness.

The results of the human trials were hailed a “major new development” in the fight against the disease, which threatens to overwhelm the NHS within decades.

Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 400,000 people in Britain and the number of sufferers is expected to rise rapidly as the population ages.

.....the drugs are expected to cost the same as current treatments for the illness such as Aricept, which are £2.50 a day.

However, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) the Government’s drugs watchdog, ruled that Aricept, which has been shown to improve the memory and day-to-day life of those in the late stages of the disease, was too expensive for widespread use in Britain.

Terry Pratchett, the best selling author who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, disclosed earlier this year that he was being forced to pay for the drug himself.

The latest breakthrough will lead for increased calls for Nice to reconsider its policy on dementia drugs.

As of this writing:

An estimated 10 million American baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's disease in their lifetime, placing enormous strains on the U.S. health-care system and the already overburdened network of caregivers, a new report predicts.

Currently, at least 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, including 200,000 to 250,000 people under age 65. By 2010, projections say there will be 500,000 new cases of the mind-wasting disease each year, and nearly one million new cases annually by 2050, the report estimates.

With that in mind, why has the U.S .government cut funding?

...the U.S. government has cut spending on Alzheimer's research, McConnell added. "Right now the government is spending about $640 million a year on Alzheimer's research," he said. "It seems like a lot, but we are spending over $5 billion a year on cancer, and more than $3 billion on heart disease each year. If we can just get that $640 million up to $1 billion a year, that would make a big difference.

Read more about the recent U.S. report at Live Science.

Caregivers Need Help Too:

Are you caring for someone with alzheimers or do you know someone who is? Then this information on caregiver support might prove useful.

Go well, stay well,


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