New dementia drug would work wonders for the world's economy

Sarah Spickernell
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There are almost 1m sufferers currently living in the UK (Source: Getty)
A dementia drug called Solanezumab could become the first ever to effectively halt progress of the brain disease, and the benefits to the economy will be huge if it is put to use.
The drug company Eli Lilly is due to reveal the results of its analysis into trials of the medicine, which are expected to show a slow down in the decline of brain function if sufferers are treated early on.
A previous trial of Solanezumab in 2012 failed to produce successful results, but now scientists are hoping for a revival of research into the benefits it gives.
If today's announcement offers hope, a fresh clinical trial will be launched next year. No one claims the drug is a complete cure or that it can stop the disease in its tracks permanently, but it will offer a better option than anything else currently available and significantly postpone the start of symptoms.
According to estimates, delaying the onset of dementia by five years would reduce the number of cases by a third.
The new drug works by breaking down Amyloid plaques, which build up in the brains of sufferers and are thought to be the main cause of the disease. A build up of these between neurones causes such damage that brain cells eventually die.

Economic burden lifted

With life expectancy going up across the world, the burden of age-related of diseases such as Alzheimer's is placing enormous pressure on health systems globally.
Across the world, an estimated 44 million people currently suffer from dementia, placing an annual cost of £384bn on the world's economy.
The number of people suffering is projected to rise to 135 million by 2050, unless a preventative measure or cure is found in the meantime.

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