July 30, 2008

Breakthrough Drug Fights Alzheimer’s

* Alzheimer's was first described in 1906 by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer

* According to the Alzheimer's Society the disease affects around 417,000 people in the UK

* Sufferers from the disease have been shown to have a shortage of the chemical acetylcholine in their brains

* In the course of the disease, 'plaques' and 'tangles' develop in the brain, leading to the death of brain cells

* People in the early stages may experience lapses of memory and have problems finding the right words

* As the disease progresses symptoms could include confusion, mood swings or communication problems

* No one single factor has been identified as causing Alzheimer's disease. It is likely a combination of factors including age, genetic inheritance, environmental factors, diet and overall general health are all responsible

* Age is the greatest risk factor for dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society. It affects one in 14 people over the age of 65 and one in six people over the age of 80

* Although there is currently no cure, drug treatments are available that can ameliorate the symptoms or slow down the progression of Alzheimer's in some people

* Alzheimer's is currently diagnosed using methods including memory tests and brain scans

* For each person with Alzheimer's, only Pounds 11 is spent each year in the UK on research compared with Pounds 289 for each cancer patient

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