Latimer: Optimism for dementia treatment

When it comes to dementia research, we have made some good progress in the past couple of years

Paul Latimer

The start of a new year seems a natural time to take stock, assess where we’ve been, and plan for where we’d like to go in the coming months and years.

When it comes to dementia research, we have made some good progress in the past couple of years. Many countries around the world have acknowledged that with an aging population, now is the time to be investing heavily in research toward stopping what is currently an incurable, degenerative condition.

According to the US National Institutes of Health, America spent $991 million on Alzheimer’s and dementia research last year. The UK doubled its funding for dementia research since 2009 and now spends roughly three percent of its total medical research funds on dementia.

Here in Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Research says we spent $52 million on dementia related research in 2012-13 – about five percent of its total research budget.

Dementia is one of the largest health care challenges facing Canada today. Approximately 564,000 Canadians live with dementia right now and that number is expected to climb by more than 66 percent by 2032. With this in mind, we need to increase our research focus in this area to prevent the increasing burden to our healthcare system in coming years.

Researchers are beginning to express optimism that new treatments on the horizon have the potential to dramatically improve the way we currently manage dementia. The head of Britain’s new Dementia Research Institute believes that by 2025, dementia could be manageable much the way HIV/AIDS are today. He is also optimistic that if disease progression is halted early enough, the brain could regain some of its lost function.

It is very exciting to see the world waking up to the challenge of finding effective treatment tools and an eventual cure for dementia. I am looking forward to the advances we will undoubtedly make when the medical research community turns its collective attention to this very important issue.

Here at Okanagan Clinical Trials we have been conducting quite a few studies on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the past couple of years and will continue to do so in 2017. We are also part of a group of research centres with a proven track record of excellence in conducting clinical studies in this area.

We are also now offering a memory clinic. If you’re concerned about your memory, you can contact us to come in for a comprehensive cognitive assessment.

Dementia shouldn’t be a normal part of aging. If you are concerned, speak with your doctor.