For people who have been diagnosed with dementia, medicine offers little in the way of help. There is no known cure for the condition, despite millions of dollars being spent on research, and numerous clinical trials over many years.
The fact remains that once someone has been diagnosed with dementia, there is little they can do to slow the progress of the condition.
Dementia is associated with the build up of amyloid in the brain. Amyloid affects memory and learning, and is known to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. But recent studies aimed at reducing amyloids in the brain have had little success.
But now two Australian scientists are looking at tackling dementia in different ways.
Professor Ralph Martins, from Macquarie University, believes that once someone has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s too late for treatment.
“To date, sadly, all the trails have failed and I think they failed because it’s too little, too late,” he told the ABC’s 7.30.
Prof Martins is scanning the brains of candidates who have not been diagnosed with dementia. Those showing early signs of amyloid build up will take part in the trial, and will be given fish oil and testosterone to sweep out amyloids from the brain.
Prof Martins says he hopes this treatment may one day prevent people from developing dementia at all.
“I’m really hoping that the amyloid level will be markedly reduced and that will delay or even prevent the onset of dementia in them,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 report.
Anyone interested in taking part in the trial can register interest atwww.alzheimers.com.au or call 0863043966 for further information.
Associate Professor Stephen MacFarlane from Hammondcare is trialling a new drug, Anavex 2-73, which prevents the build up of the amyloid and also reduces inflammation in the brain.
According to Prof MacFarlane, the results of early testing have been promising.
“We have people who have previously been accomplished painters, artists, piano players, who have resumed those activities,” he told 7.30.
“Those sorts of improvements are much more meaningful in my view, because they illustrate really life changing benefits to the person.”
The trial involves scanning candidate’s brains. Prof MacFarlane said it’s normal to see some brain shrinkage as we age.
“We lose about 10,000 brain cells a day after the age of 40,” he said, but people with dementia will see a greater degree of shrinkage.
Prof MacFarlane says if the trial is successful it will offer hope to those with dementia; there will “finally” be a drug that can arrest or slow the progress of dementia, he said.
You can register to take part in this trail through the website.
More than 400,000 people in Australia have dementia, with that number expected to rise to more than one million within 40 years. Every day, 250 people are told they have the condition.