August 2, 2008

New Hope for Alzheimer’s Sufferers ; Alzheimer’s Support Workers in Plymouth Have Cautiously Welcomed News of a New Drug Which May Halt the Progression of the Disease.

By DOMINIC JEFF Herald Reporter

Alzheimer's support workers in Plymouth have cautiously welcomed news of a new drug which may halt the progression of the disease.

Trials of the drug Rember by Aberdeen University researchers showed an 81 per cent difference in the rate of mental decline among those taking the treatment.

Ian Sherriff, chairman of the Plymouth and district branch of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "It's good news. It's clearly still in a testing stage, but the figures I've seen are very positive.

"From my point of view it's starting to offer a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel for Alzheimer's sufferers, their carers and families. Before there was little hope at all. Caring for someone 24-hours-a-day is an immense task, and anything that brings relief to that is welcome."

Mr Sherriff estimates about 3,000 people have various forms of dementia in the Plymouth area, and about 250 are in regular contact with the society, which provides information, support and home visits from a paid worker.

Rosemarie Stephens, who runs the Memory Conservatory drop-in centre, said news of the successful trials was wonderful - but recalled previous occasions when supposed wonder drugs have failed to materialise.

She said: "It's fantastic news if this is true. Some of our clients will be able to benefit from it - that's if it's not too expensive to provide."

But she said further trials should include research into possible side effects, and money needed to be made available for brain scans to diagnose different kinds of dementia.

The Aberdeen researchers said Rember targeted the build-up of a specific protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer's. It is hoped the drug may be on the market by 2012. The trial involved 321 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, who were given either 30, 60 or 100mg of the drug, or a placebo.

The 60mg dose produced the most pronounced effect - over 50 weeks there was a seven-point difference on a scale used to measure severity of dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society is holding a Memory Walk in and around Home Park on September 21 - World Alzheimer's Awareness Day.

Anyone wanting to take part can just turn up, or for more information call 255399.

(c) 2008 Plymouth Evening Herald, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.