Dementia: A treatable condition of midlife
Published on 28th February 2023
One of the world’s foremost researchers into Alzheimer’s Disease and the wider diagnosis and treatment of dementia says, for the last century, investigations into these conditions have been focusing on the wrong place.
The Founder and Chief Executive of Scottish Brain Sciences, Professor in Psychiatry of Ageing Craig Ritchie, has been telling a seminar in Aberdeen that science and medicine need to move away from the concept that neurodegenerative disorders are conditions of older people and, instead, regard them as treatable conditions of midlife:
“It’s a bit like cancer and heart disease, your illness is progressing long before you start getting symptoms. It is the diseases that lead to dementia that we need to be identifying and treating because, by the time people are showing symptoms, their disease is at a very late stage.”
Professor Ritchie was revealing more details about Scottish Brain Sciences at a meeting arranged by Opportunity North East Life Sciences in Aberdeen.
The company has been set up to generate new opportunities for people to get involved in clinical research into brain health and brain diseases, with people soon to be invited to enrol themselves in brain health research.
Professor Ritchie says central to the organisation’s work will be a network of brain health clinics:
“The first thing people need is somewhere they can go with their concerns about their brain health, be it because they have a family history, very early symptoms or simply a feeling that things are not quite right anymore. These answers will be offered through brain health clinics.
“We already know that, for around four in ten people, their disease may be modifiable. So, for people attending a brain health clinic where we can do brain scanning and blood testing, we will create the opportunity to have their own risk factor analysis and to create for them a personalised prevention plan – their own strategy to reduce their risk of developing dementia.
“For those who are diagnosed, pharmacological interventions are going to play a central role, And, because these drugs work best when the disease is caught in its infancy, we hope people will get involved at a much younger age than has previously been the case.”
The Opportunity North East seminar in Aberdeen, which coincided with the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference in the city, brought together the triple helix of clinicians from NHS Grampian, academics and students from Robert Gordon and Aberdeen universities, and people from a mix of life sciences companies in the region.
Professor Ritchie says he was pleased to use this meeting to talk in detail about the challenges and share how Scottish Brain Sciences wants to work in partnership with NHS, academic and industry colleagues to address them:
“I am an Aberdonian and graduate of Aberdeen medical school, so I am proud of what is happening in the North East.
“If Scotland is leading the world in the brain health movement, which it undoubtedly is, then it’s particularly gratifying that Aberdeen should be furthest ahead in Scotland.”