A drug capable of slowing down the progression of Alzheimer's disease could be available to patients within five years, it has been claimed.
At a conference in London on Wednesday (December 4th), Dr Eric Karran from Alzheimer's Research UK told delegates that is very hopeful that that a medication known as solanezumab will be approved for prescription.
Tests on the drug have found that it can slow the pace of Alzheimer's by a third and Dr Karran hopes that one day it will be part of a jab given to people showing the early signs of the condition.
"If solanezumab is shown to work in mild Alzheimer’s disease then the pathway would be to take that earlier and earlier, and we would be able to do it because we would have confidence that it would have an effect," he said.
"People take statin therapy before they have a stroke. If you can affect it early, even only modestly, you have the potential to delay the disease quite considerably."
Solanezumab has been found to target beta amyloid, the toxic proteins which build up in the brain of Alzheimer's patients for around a decade before memory loss occurs.
The drug is due to be tested further on volunteers aged between 55 and 90 in the US.
Professor Peter Passmore from Queen's College Belfast said the drug could provide the "Holy Grail" for further research into the devastating condition, while professor Nick Fox of the Institute of Neurology at University College London, said it provides the best "window of opportunity" currently available.
At present, more than 820,000 people live in the UK with some form of dementia, costing the economy around £23 million each year.
The majority of patients are in their 80s and 90s, but the disease can affect people of any age with 2.3 per cent of cases occurring in people under 65.
Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes