A dementia cure by 2025?

G8 countries meeting in London have committed [PDF] to identifying a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025 and to significantly increasing research funding to reach that goal. The aim dovetails with one set by the United States in its National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was released in May 2012.

The G8 (Group of Eight) countries include the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom. Delivering opening remarks at the G8 Dementia Summit today (Dec. 11), U.K. Secretary of State for Health Jerry Hunt called for:

  • Redoubling efforts to find a drug to halt or reverse cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia,
  • Improving diagnosis rates, and
  • Fighting the stigma surrounding dementia.

The challenges associated with dementia today echo those related to HIV/AIDS nine years ago, U.K.’s  top health official said. The global tide against AIDS turned after G8 countries agreed that anti-retroviral drugs should be available to all who needed them during a 2005 G8 Summit on HIV/AIDS held in Scotland, Hunt added.

“Now we need to do it again” with dementia, he said. The United Kingdom hosted the latest summit, capitalizing on its presidency of the group.

“One in three of us will get dementia,” Hunt said. “And if we don’t do better, for one in three, those later years could be years of agony, heartbreak and despair—not just for those of us with the condition, but for our families, friends and loved ones, too.”

Noting that healthcare systems around the world will go bankrupt if the threat of dementia isn’t addressed, the health minister also noted that the reasons to fight growth of the disease go beyond the financial.

“The real reason is human,” he said. “Everyone deserves to live their final years in dignity, respect and the support of loved ones.”

In advance of today’s gathering, Alzheimer’s Disease International released a policy brief noting that the number of people living with dementia worldwide is expected to increase from 44 million today to 76 million in 2030 and to 135 million by 2050.

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