August 17, 2008

Research Offers Hope for Derbyshire Dementia Patients


Dementia patients have welcomed the news that drugs which could slow or prevent the onset of the condition could be available in as little as eight years' time.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have managed to produce a mouse which has the same type of brain degeneration seen in Lewy body disease - a condition which shares characteristics with Alzheim-er's and Parkinson's disease.

It is hoped that studying the mouse will help scientists understand more about how brain cells deteriorate and allow drugs to be developed to treat the disease while the patient is still in the early stages.

Heather Roberts, of Woodybank Close, Allestree, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago and has been raising awareness of the condition ever since through her work as an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society.

The 53-year-old said: "It is very good news. Any advancements such as this can only be a positive step forward.

"At the moment there is no way of really treating Alzheimer's, so drugs that can be used in the early stages to stop or slow down the disease would be fantastic."

The research has been carried out by Professor John Mayer and Dr Lynn Bedford from the university's school of biomedical sciences and Professor Jim Lowe from the school of molecular medical sciences.

Prof Mayer said: "It has taken eight-and-a-half years and cost something in the region of pounds2m to produce the mouse model, which is the first of its kind.

"Current drugs given to people with Lewy body and Parkinson's disease simply treat the symptoms. We will use this model to identify targets for new drugs to slow or prevent the disease."

It is estimated that it will take about three years to find out exactly how the brain deterioration takes place and a further five to develop a treatment.

About 700,000 people in the UK currently suffer from dementia, about 15% of whom have Lewy body disease, and this figure is expected to double within a generation.

The research was jointly funded by the Alzheimer's Research Trust and the Parkinson's Disease Society.

Trust chief executive Rebecca Wood said: "This is a crucial breakthrough for scientists."

On Saturday, September 13, the Alzheimer's Society is holding its fund-raising Memory Walk. It takes place at 10.30am in Markeaton Park, Derby. To register and for more information call 07923 471181, e-mail [email protected] or visit uk.

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