Dementia treatment could be revolutionised by a simple blood test | Health News News
Dementia treatment could be revolutionised by a simple blood test on the NHS that will quickly and accurately diagnose the condition, it has been revealed.
Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK are carrying out a joint research project into which of the tests currently available are most effective for UK patients.
It’s hoped the study will enable the introduction of an inexpensive blood test on the NHS that will transform the dementia landscape across the UK.
The six-year project been made possible by a massive £5m donation from People’s Postcode Lottery – their biggest ever.
It could end the agony of patients spending over a year waiting to find out if their symptoms are being caused by dementia.
Not only would it allow for a far earlier diagnosis, it would mean patients could secure access to treatments and support for the condition a long time before they normally would.
Yesterday, Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Anxiously waiting months and months for a diagnosis is simply not good enough. People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia deserve better.
‘Making sure future generations won’t have to go through this lengthy worry by bringing a quick, simple blood test to the NHS is a wonderful legacy from People’s Postcode Lottery players all over the country. If we can fix diagnosis, we open the door for a cure.’
Dementia is a general term for an impaired ability to think, remember or perform daily activities that gets worse over time.
Currently it’s diagnosed by GPs referring patients to specialists who carry out memory tests and sometimes brain scans.
It can take a long time, during which a stressed and worried patient can’t access the support they need for the condition.
Currently there is no cure for dementia – which will affect one in three people born today – but there are medications that can help with the symptoms.
At the moment there are several blood tests that have been developed to test for dementia, but they haven’t been trialled on people.
This project aims to change that and give the NHS the evidence it needs to eventually roll an effective test out across the UK.
Kate Lee, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society explained: ‘With diagnosis rates at a five-year low, we need to act now to help end the devastation caused by dementia.
‘Funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery will transform dementia diagnosis forever by accelerating the use of a revolutionary blood test on the NHS and crucially creating a legacy for millions of families in the future who will benefit from an early diagnosis.’
Currently around 900,000 people in the UK have dementia but that number is expected to rise sharply over coming years as the population ages – the biggest single risk fact for the condition.
By 2025, over one million people are expected to be affected, and nearly 1.6 million by 2040.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a quick and simple test that can diagnose the condition as early as possible.
The new blood test rollout will have been made possible by a £5 million donation from People’s Postcode Lottery’s ‘Dream Fund’.
It was set up to give charities a chance to deliver the big projects they have always dreamed of but couldn’t because of a lack of funds.
So far it’s helped victims of domestic violence, military veterans and disadvantaged children among others.
But this is the single largest donation in its history.
‘This year’s Dream Fund award of £5 million is our biggest ever and will change lives for the better,’ says Clara Govier, managing director of People’s Postcode Lottery.
‘We believe this has the potential to transform dementia diagnosis in the UK. It’s a bold ambition but, with one person in Britain developing dementia every three minutes, we must aim high.’