Bill Gates announces investment to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Leading philanthropist Bill Gates has announced that he is to invest in a new fund designed to bring about improved diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Gates made his first investment into dementia research in November 2017 when he put $50m into the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), which provides backing for early-stage drug discovery projects around the globe. The DDF was formed through a collaboration of the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s Research UK and several leading pharmaceutical companies.

This latest announcement sees Mr Gates make a further investment into a new fund, Diagnostics Accelerator, run by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in the US. The fund will back research aimed at accelerating earlier and better diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in the clinic.

Full story at Alzheimer’s Research UK

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UK adults differ from NHS England boss on health priorities

A recent poll shows UK adults believe dementia is in the top three health areas the NHS should focus on in the next 10 years | Alzheimer’s Research UK

The survey commissioned by Alzheimer’s Research UK shows starkly different public priorities to those outlined today in an interview with NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens, which failed to acknowledge the harm dementia presents to the UK’s economy, health services, and lives of people living with condition and carers.

statistic-1606951_1280The survey asked people to consider how they would like resources, innovation and funding to be prioritised in the next 10 years. The top disease areas identified in an open-ended question were dementia and Alzheimer’s, cancer and mental health.

The survey also showed one in four UK adults say they believe dementia is the biggest health challenge facing the NHS in the next 70 years in terms of the cost to the NHS and the number of people affected in each of eight disease areas, including cancer, heart disease and mental health conditions. A quarter of adults selected dementia, the highest percentage for any disease area.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on the government and NHS England to make dementia a major priority in the forthcoming 10-year plan. This includes fostering innovation through increased funding for dementia research, working to detect the diseases that cause dementia 10-15 years sooner, increasing awareness of dementia risk reduction, and preparing today for future dementia treatments so they can reach people without unnecessary delay.

Full story at Alzheimer’s Research UK

Footballers may be at heightened risk of brain trauma linked to dementia

Repeated headers during a footballer’s professional career may be linked to long-term brain damage, according to a small study by UK scientists. | BBC | OnMedica

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The researchers, from the Queen Square Brain Bank in London, base their findings on 14 retired footballers with dementia, who were referred to the Old Age Psychiatry Service in Swansea between 1980 and 2010.

Evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in four out of the six whose brains were examined after death. All six also had signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lead author Dr Helen Ling explained “This is the first time CTE has been confirmed in a group of retired footballers, Our findings…suggest a potential link between playing football and the development of degenerative brain pathologies in later life.”

But she cautioned: “However, it is important to note that we only studied a small number of retired footballers with dementia and that we still do not know how common dementia is among footballers.”

The association between CTE and Alzheimer’s disease isn’t clear, she said. “Previous studies have shown that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is increased in people with previous head injuries. On the other hand, the risk of dementia is also increased with age and we don’t know if these footballers would have developed Alzheimer’s disease anyway if they hadn’t played football.

“The most pressing research question is therefore to find out if dementia is more common in footballers than in the normal population.”

Read more via  OnMedica | BBC

Full reference: Ling H, et al. Mixed pathologies including chronic traumatic encephalopathy account for dementia in retired association football (soccer) players. Acta Neuropathologica, 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s00401-017-1680-3

Homecare is failing people with dementia: Alzheimers Society

Only 2% of people affected by dementia say homecare workers have enough dementia training. |  Alzheimer’s Society

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An Alzheimer’s Society investigation has exposed a vicious cycle where a lack of dementia training for homecare workers results in intolerable stress for people with dementia, families and carers – and for the homecare workers themselves.

Poor quality homecare is leaving too many people with dementia spending the day in soiled clothing, going without food or water, or ending up in costly hospital or care home admissions when they could have stayed at home, where they want to be, for longer.

The investigation involved a survey of homecare workers with Unison, research into the sector with Skills for Care, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all local authorities in England, and a survey of over 1220 people affected by dementia to gather first-hand testimonies about homecare.

Key findings from the survey of over 1220 people affected by dementia include:

  • Only 2% of people affected by dementia say homecare workers ‘have enough dementia training
  • Half (49%) of people affected by dementia do not think that ‘homecare workers understand the specific needs of people with dementia’
  • More than a third (38%) of people affected by dementia do not think that ‘homecare workers know how to treat people with dementia with understanding and dignity

Read more via the Alzheimer’s Society

Research claims the number of people with dementia could be stabilising

Research published today (Friday 21 August) in The Lancet Neurology journal indicates that the number of people with dementia in some Western European countries is stabilising.

The reason(s) why rates of dementia may be levelling-off, or even falling, is not certain; but improvements in general wellbeing and ongoing work towards the reduction of risk factors for dementia (which include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, low educational attainment, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity) have been suggested.

According to the researchers, although the decrease in dementia occurrence is a positive sign, dementia care will remain a crucial challenge for many years because of population ageing.

Reference: Wu, Y-T. Fratiglioni, L.  Matthews, FE. [et al] (2015). Dementia in western Europe: epidemiological evidence and implications for policy making. Lancet Neurology. Published online August 20th 2015.

Related: Dementia levels ‘are stabilising’.  BBC Health News, August 21st 2015.

More on the Association Between Dementia and Poor Sleep Quality (NHS Choices / Nature Neuroscience)

Summary

Recent US research found an apparent link between poor sleep quality and higher levels abnormal protein (beta-amyloid plaques) in the brain. The following NHS Choices Behind the Headlines critical appraisal puts the limitations of this interesting research into perspective.

Full Text Link

This relates to:

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Reference: Mander, BA. Marks, SM. [and] Vogel, JW. [et al] (2015). β-amyloid disrupts human NREM slow waves and related hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation. Nature Neuroscience. July 2015, Vol.18(7), pp.1051-7. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).

via More on the Association Between Dementia and Poor Sleep Quality (NHS Choices / Nature Neuroscience).