Yesterday saw leading nations pledge to find a cure or an effective treatment for dementia by 2025. At the first ever G8 Dementia Summit in London, ministers promised to increase the amount of funding dedicated to dementia. But even with these new investments and renewed commitment some are doubtful that a cure or treatment will ever be found.

 

So how close are we currently to finding a treatment or cure? Scientists are still unsure what exactly causes Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some research focuses mainly on trying to further understand the disease, its causes and how it progresses. While other research aims to try and identify drugs or therapies that could target the problems associated with dementia.

It is thought that plaques (pictured) may play a key role in the cell death in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s. Researchers have struggled to administer drugs that could break down these plaques due to difficulties getting these drugs across the blood-brain barrier. A new study published in the Journal of Molecular Therapy this month shows how a protein was successfully transported across the blood-brain barrier.

This month has also seen research published that identifies the SORL1 Alzheimer’s gene and the changes this gene causes to the brain. “We need to understand where, when and how these Alzheimer’s risk genes affect the brain, by studying the biological pathways through which they work,” says Dr. Aristotle Voineskos who led the study. “Through this knowledge, we can begin to design interventions at the right time, for the right people.”

The sheer volume of research published and the rapid rate at which our knowledge on dementia is expanding leaves many hopeful that we will one day beat it.

 

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