‘Complicated, costly and slow’ dementia trials are delaying future treatments, Alzheimer’s Research UK warns
17 August 2020
Alzheimer’s Research UK has called on government to use the investment promised for a ‘Dementia Moonshot’ to transform the way the UK carries out clinical trials for dementia, in an effort to find life-changing treatments sooner.
A new report, from the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and Gates Ventures, has found that current trials are ‘more complicated, costly and slower’ when compared to other health areas. The study found seven key barriers to clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, which included lack of awareness from those affected, fear of a diagnosis, unclear disease diagnoses as well as a lack of diagnostics and limited treatments.
The report found that around 99% of eligible individuals are never referred to or consider participating in an Alzheimer’s clinical trial. And while there are nearly one million people in the UK living with dementia, there are currently no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s, that cause it.
During the 2019 election, the Conservative Manifesto promised to double funding for dementia research to over £160 million a year, as part of a ‘Dementia Moonshot’ programme to find a cure for the condition and speed up clinical trials for new treatments. The UK’s leading dementia research charity is now urging government to allocate funding in the upcoming comprehensive spending review to improve dementia clinical trials, making the UK a go-to place to carry out trials and speed up progress towards new treatments.
Samantha Benham-Hermetz, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“While we have seen a boost in investment for dementia research over the last decade, and progress is being made in the lab, this report highlights trials for promising dementia treatments can be complicated, costly and slow. But as we’ve seen in recent months with COVID-19, breakthrough research into life-threatening conditions can happen at pace, and collaboration and innovation can speed up trials. We need to mirror this approach to make breakthroughs in dementia research.
“To bring about life-changing treatments sooner, we need targeted government investment to make the UK the go-to place for clinical research. That’s why we’re urging government to deliver on its Dementia Moonshot promise to double the dementia research budget and, as part of this investment, to establish a high performing network of clinical trial sites. In doing so, more people affected by dementia will be able to participate in clinical trials, more trials will be completed successfully and this will speed up progress towards innovative new treatments. Overcoming the barriers to clinical trials we face today will enable us to make the biggest difference to the lives of people affected by dementia in the future.
“With almost one million people in the UK today living with dementia, yet no new treatments for the condition in almost 20 years, we don’t have a moment to waste.”