Treatments of tomorrow: Preparing for breakthroughs in dementia

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By Dr Matthew Norton | Tuesday 13 September 2016

Today we launched our new report Treatments of tomorrow: Preparing for breakthroughs in dementia. In it, we call for an urgent plan for managing how new medicines reach patients.

There are currently no treatments that can change or slow the course of the diseases that cause dementia, but in recent years global efforts in this area have been spurred on by the G7’s aim of developing such treatments by 2025. The number of treatments in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, has nearly doubled in the past three years, and 12 potential therapies are now in the later stages of testing. Many of these aim to slow the underlying disease in people with mild symptoms.

These trials are still ongoing, but now is the time to lay the groundwork for new treatments. We need to ensure that our health system can cope if they prove successful.

The current pathway for new drug treatments is complex:


Our report highlights potential challenges along the way that could delay the take-up of effective new dementia therapies – including demonstrating the effects of disease modifying treatments in the early stages of dementia, the affordability of new treatments and associated equipment and infrastructure, and concerns about the way a treatment’s potential impact on social care would be valued.

There are a number of actions that we believe should be taken now to pave the way for future scientific advances that could benefit people with dementia, including:

  • Better ‘horizon scanning’ to help forewarn the NHS about new treatments and diagnostic tools in development.
  • Early discussions about the possible impact of disease-modifying dementia treatments between regulators, NHS decision-makers, the pharmaceutical industry and charities.
  • Scope for drugs companies and the health service to agree early or conditional access to new disease-modifying treatments where appropriate, alongside ongoing ‘real world’ data collection to understand longer-term effects;
  • Ensuring that any changes to the system recommended by the government’s ongoing Accelerated Access Review are suitable for new dementia treatments.

If you’re interested in taking part in dementia research studies, you can sign up to Join Dementia Research, where you can register your interest in joining studies in your area.


  1. Dr Robert Peers on 19th September 2016 at 9:51 am

    It is quite incorrect to assert that there are currently no Alzheimer treatments that change or slow the disease. Far the most promising disease-modifying agent is the glucose isomer myo-inositol, a grain sugar that has surprising anti ageing properties.

    These properties include a remarkable ability to enhance the clearance of disease proteins, which has obvious therapeutic possibilities in all protein aggregation diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia and Motor Neuron Disease.

    Inositol was tested in 1996, in a small Alzheimer trial in Israel, in which a dose of 6 gm/day was given for 4 weeks. Rapid and significant improvements in orientation and language were seen, and there was also a small upward trend in cognition scores, which looked very promising.

    Inositol is known to suppress a key growth factor pathway involved in anti-ageing. Artificial suppression of this pathway in transgenic Alzheimer mice results in neuroprotection, better cognition, and reduced Alzheimer brain pathology Dr Ehud Cohen and Dr Andrew Dillin, Salk Institute 2009]. Cohen has moved to Israel, where he is developing a compound [NT219] that suppresses the above Insulin-like Signalling pathway, with great hopes of arresting the disease.

    Inositol is abundant in the Mediterranean diets known to reduce Alzheimer risk, so the only remaining challenge is to give a higher dose than such a diet supplies, in a larger treatment trial than the small Israeli study done so long ago, by Barak and Levine.

  2. Freda Berry on 1st October 2016 at 12:07 am

    If you need someone to try any breakthrough I would be willing to do it as I have the first stages.

  3. Freda Berry on 2nd October 2016 at 10:11 am

    I am not sure what you want,I have tried twice but you keep saying it is not what you want,can you help

  4. Freda Berry on 2nd October 2016 at 10:17 am

    I am very going through with your breakthrough for Alzheimer,s, can you please tell me what I have to do now

  5. Freda Berry on 9th October 2016 at 8:41 am

    I am very interested in helping re dementia

  6. Freda Berry on 9th October 2016 at 10:55 am

    Can you please tell me what I have to do as I m very interested in finding some help with dementia

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About the author

Dr Matthew Norton

Dr Matthew Norton joined Alzheimer's Research UK as Head of Policy and Public Affairs in 2013 and lead on policy development and stakeholder engagement up to 2018. He has a PhD in Social Policy and experience of supporting the design and running of bio-medical and clinical research for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Matthew has also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and prior to joining Alzheimer’s Research UK worked in policy and research for Age UK.