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The dementia ‘tsunami’ is coming – but two potential medications offer hope

As our population continues to age, the number of people with dementia is set to skyrocket, a situation that geriatric medicine researcher A/Prof Michael Woodward has likened to a ‘tsunami that’s sadly almost bearing down on us’.

Dementia already affects more than 400,000 Australians and is the second-biggest cause of death, but it’s predicted that this will grow to 589,000 by 2028 and more than one million by 2058.

The debilitating condition causes a decline in memory, cognition and day-to-day functioning, a distressing process both for sufferers and their loved ones.

Two new medications for dementia are currently being trialled, giving hope for more effective treatment. One is a monoclonal antibody gantenerumab, designed to remove the toxic protein amyloid from the brains of people with dementia. Although earlier trials have been disappointing, a higher dose is now being trialled in several thousand participants, including at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.

“We want to see if the drug has a clinical benefit,” Dr Woodward said. “If [it] improves their memory, their day-to-day function.

“And indeed, that we may even be able to show that the disease slows down.”

It will be at least two years before the results of the trial are known, however.

The second medication is Xanamem, developed by Australian-based pharmaceutical company Actinogen. The drug block’s the body’s production of cortisol, which is thought to be linked to dementia when levels are chronically raised. Early research has been promising, but the still needs to be trialled in people with Alzheimer’s before it can be widely prescribed.

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Source: ABC News