Duration: 1:01:11 | 30 September 2020

Dr Ruth McKernan CBE

Dementia is a modifiable brain disorder, not - as many people might think – an inevitable consequence of old age. We now understand that there are many forms of dementia with different biological causes, genetic influences and potential opportunities for treatment.

In this talk, Dr Ruth McKernan CBE discusses why it has been so very difficult to create new medicines. None have been launched in the last 30 years, despite billions spent on research and development.

But with more than 100 biotech companies working on new medicines and over 200 clinical trials underway across the world, there are reasons to be hopeful. Drug discovery efforts have focused on two proteins that form the hallmark sticky plaques and tangles visible in the post-mortem brains first observed by Alois Alzheimer in1906. Some scientists believe that beta-amyloid protein (BAP) is the culprit while others blame Tau. Nicknamed the ‘BAPtists’ and ‘Tauists’, each camp has now developed drugs to reduce protein levels in the brain.

We will soon know how well they work from the late stage clinical trials underway.

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