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Horizon highlights new era of Alzheimer's research

Horizon highlights new era of Alzheimer's research
11th May 2016

Dementia care can be challenging. With no known cure for the neurological condition, it can be difficult to manage the symptoms and help a person with dementia lead an independent life for as long as possible.

However, new research is giving hope to millions of people who have the condition or are at a high risk of developing it in the future.

This is the subject of an upcoming BBC Two programme called 'Curing Alzheimer's'. The documentary looks at the innovative avenues of study that are showing much promise for the future.

From scanning and gene technology, which enable much earlier detection of Alzheimer's disease, to pioneering new drugs that have been proven to reduce the levels of a key protein involved in the progression of the condition, research is an exciting area for many leading experts.

The programme also looks at the ways people living with Alzheimer's now can help improve their health. Devices have been developed that encourage deeper sleeping to strengthen memories during the night, while teams are also exploring the relationship between diet and staving off the worst symptoms of the condition.

Trials are currently taking place across the UK to measure how brain training could help people in the early stages of the disease to improve their cognitive performance.

The Horizon episode, which is being screened tonight (May 11th), focuses on Professor Nick Fox at the Dementia Research Centre at the University College London Hospitals (UCLH).

New technologies mean that the early signs of dementia can be identified by brain scans more than a decade before symptoms start appearing.

Professor Fox says: "This is a very exciting time. There is a new window of opportunity. New technology allows us to see the first signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, earlier than we ever could before."

Being able to detect the disease at an earlier stages means treatment can start before any notable damage has occurred, giving patients more effective therapies for preventing the onset of the disease.

A number of drugs are currently being explored to see whether they could help prevent the damage and symptoms that are caused by Alzheimer's, or even reduce the risk of people getting it at all.

The programme focuses on Aducanumab, which hit the headlines last year when it was found to reduce amyloid plaque - a hallmark of the disease.

Al Sandrock, the chief medical officer at manufacturers of Aducanumab Biogen, said early results from the trial suggest that treating Alzheimer's in the initial stages may mean people never have to worry about it again.

Separate trials are being carried out by the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the US National Institute of Health to look at the impact of a drug called Crenezumab, which is able to target multiple types of amyloid.

Dr Eric Reiman, from the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, said: "We believe that this trial marks the dawn of a new era of Alzheimer's prevention research.”

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes.