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UK study to improve Alzheimer's treatment

AAP logoAAP 22/08/2016

A landmark STG6.9 million ($A11.84 million) trial that aims to revolutionise the early treatment of Alzheimer's disease has been launched in the UK.

The identification of `biomarkers' in the 250 study participants is hoped to lead to an early Alzheimer's diagnosis so treatment can begin to halt the progress of the disease before irreparable brain damage has occurred.

Between 2002 and 2012, 99 per cent of clinical trials testing new therapies for Alzheimer's disease ended in failure, with the most likely reason attributed to the drugs being tested on patients whose brains were already badly damaged.

The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study, backed by the UK Medical Research Council, will put each participant through 50 tests designed to detect early signs of dementia.

"We know that Alzheimer's disease starts long before it is noticed by those with the disease or their doctor. Previous studies have shown changes to the brain as early as 10 to 20 years before symptoms arise," lead scientist Professor Simon Lovestone, from Oxford University, said.

"If we can identify the biomarkers present in this very early stage, we have the chance of treating the disease earlier, which is vital if we are to prevent damage to people's memory and thinking. We're indebted to those volunteers taking part in the study whose time and effort will make a real difference to our ability to diagnose and treat this disease."

Alzheimer's symptoms including severe memory loss, confusion and mood changes only appear after the disease has progressed for many years, experts believe.

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