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Dementia: Scientists at Oxford University discover ‘neurotoxic’ chemical triggers dementia


In years previous, dementia was seen as an inevitable part of ageing, something that occurred as someone got older. Today the world is different, today science tells us dementia is a disease, and one that can be treated. Researchers at the biotech firm Neuro-Bio say they have discovered what could be the first effective treatment for dementia after they discovered a ‘neurotoxic’ chemical that causes the disease. Should this treatment be rolled out, it could provide relief to the thousands of patients living with the disease.

One of the scientists behind the research, Baroness Susan Greenfield, said the research will result in a paradigm shift in the way the condition is treated.

Baroness Greenfield says: “The majority of scientists have long believed that amyloid plaques are the cause of the disease. But we believe amyloid plaques build up well after brain degeneration has begun.”

The reason why other treatments fail, Greenfield says, is because “by the time you’re seeing plaques, the horse has bolted”.

Neuro-Bio’s treatment focusses on cells at the centre of the brain known as isodendritic core; in patients with Alzheimer’s disease these are the cells that most commonly start dying first.

Although scientists don’t know why this process begins, Neuro-Bio says it has found the molecule responsible for the snowballing effect of cells dying.

The molecule in question is known as T14 and Neuro-Bio’s drug, given as a nasal spray, aims to limit the damage caused by this molecule.

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at UCL Robert Howard said the results: “Until we know a drug is safe and effective in humans, it’s too early to get excited. But it’s true the amyloid drugs have not had the positive effect the Alzheimer’s community hoped they would.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the UK.

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Although there’s no cure an early diagnosis is still better than a late one: “an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.

“A diagnosis helps people with dementia get the right treatment and support.

“With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilled lives with dementia.”

For more information on dementia contact the NHS or consult with your GP.



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