Is an Effective Dementia Drug Treatment Getting Further Away?

stop medications

Sad to hear this week that Pfizer, the worlds largest research-based pharmaceutical company, so they say, are halting the development of any new drugs designed to tackle Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with the loss of 300 jobs from their centres in Cambridge, UK; Andover, Mass., and Groton, Conn. Despite heavily funding research efforts into potential treatments in the past, Pfizer has faced high-profile disappointment in recent years from a number of different drug trials. This is a huge blow in the search for an effective drug to halt or slow both diseases just as some huge leaps are being made in other areas of diagnosis and treatment.

Any successful drug in this area would be seen by many in the pharmaceutical industry and others as having a multi-billion pound (dollar) sales potential and ongoing trials are a crucial beacon of hope for many people living with dementia and their families, so recovering from this may take a long while. Maybe we should not be leaving these decisions to private companies, perhaps its time to look at a different model for funding drug research that would make medicines more accessible to all. The World Economic Forum looked at this back in 2015 and this article, Can Megafunds Boost Drug Research?, certainly makes interesting reading now as we struggle to find new antibiotics, as well as new neurological enhancing drugs to tackle one of the World’s most costly disease processes. I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

Totally different topic and this is via the BGS Blog. This week they have published a collection of 8 articles from the last 10 years that demonstrate the way in which the application of qualitative research methods within the social science disciplines of sociology, anthropology and social psychology can enrich understanding of ageing and illness. Does sound like the greatest set of reading ever, but I am sure that if you look there will be something to love on the list!

See https://britishgeriatricssociety.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/qualitative-research-in-age-and-ageing/

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We Like NIHR Signals!

First of all my heart goes out to everyone caught up in last nights tragedy in Barcelona, a city which I visited for the first time very recently. There are no words to express the shock and horror that will be felt by anyone who lost a loved one. My deepest felt sympathy to everyone affected.

The last few weeks I have concentrated too much perhaps on both dementia and Scotland so today I’ll thank Margo Stewart the Nursing Subject Librarian here at UWS for sharing this with me.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre has a page called “Discover the Latest Research” where they release a series of reports called NIHR Signals. NIHR Signals are timely summaries of the most important research that aim to cut through the noise and provide decision makers and others with research evidence they can use. You can find out more about them here and by watching the video!

 

 

Recently the Dissemination Centre launched a new series called ‘My Signals’ where patients, service users and health and social care staff can comment and add their perspectives to Signals summaries of research. It’s not obvious how you do this but if you open the Signal you want to read you will find within it a menu that consists of:

Signal   Published Abstract   Definitions   Comments

Click on the comments link and you can both see what been said and add your own comments.

They are particularly interested in the views of patients and have created a guide to encourage them to contribute My Signals – Patients

The next editions of ‘My Signals’ will feature a Director of Public Health (in September) and three GPs (in October). Further editions will feature the views of surgeons, of nurses and of physiotherapists, so a site worth keeping an eye on.

Note also it’s a brilliant resource presenting easy to understand information, like NHS Choice’s Behind the Headlines which I have posted about before.

 

Are we on the Verge of the Next Leap Forward?

Leap forward

For many years now scientists and drug companies have been looking for drugs that don’t just ameliorate the symptoms of the disease as our current drugs do but ones that can stop the death of neurons, in the presence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

There have been times when this has been claimed but there has never been any drug that has got through human trials successfully. This week though, this claim has been made for two drugs: trazodone hydrochloride (used to treat depression and anxiety) and dibenzoylmethane (a drug that could be useful for prostate and bowel cancer). Both drugs restored memory, reduced signs of neurodegeneration and were safe for mice in the doses being trialled.

Now the beauty of utilising these drugs is that they have already been tested on humans so if they are as effective, as animal testing seems to suggest, then the process of human testing can be hugely reduced, meaning that clinical trials for both drugs in treating neurodegenerative diseases could start straight away.

Could we be approaching an era where there is a treatment that has a real impact on neurodegenerative illness for the first time? Why not go and make up your own mind about this. On BBC Health there is an item which explains what it is believed the drugs do and some further thoughts on what might happen next. Click here to view

A more in-depth critical look at the claims is contained in Behind the Headlines 

Both links take you to the paper which has caused this stir. Let’s hope the outcomes of any trial are positive because its now 20 years since the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor Donepezil (Aricept) was launched.

The Third Global Health Challenge

Had to share this first. At the end of last year my first year Masters class were lucky enough to be able to hear about the work being done with older prisoners across Scotland from Paul O’Neill, the (Healthcare) Service Manager at Shotts Prison. Paul spoke passionately about his work and the difficulties that are being encountered as our prison population ages. This week Alzheimer’s Scotland’s Let’s Talk About Dementia Blog features a really interesting item on improving Dementia awareness in prisons which features Shotts Prison. Shotts is aiming to become the first Dementia Aware Prison and the article looks at how successful this partnership working has been. To learn more click here

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On  Wednesday the 29th of March the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the latest of its Global Patient Safety Challenges. This one, unlike the previous two “Clean Care is Safe Care” challenge on hand hygiene in 2005 and the “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” challenge in 2008 extends beyond the hospital because the focus of the third challenge is “Medication Safety” 

The aim this time is to half medication errors globally within 5 years. The Global Challenge aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use. WHO aims to provide guidance and develop strategies, plans and tools to ensure that the medication process has the safety of patients at its core, in all health care facilities. For further information, click here

The people of course who will benefit the most from this will be the people who take the most medications and as we know that is older people with co-morbidities.

Brilliant news for everyone looking at this blog!