Professor Craig Ritchie

Professor Craig Ritchie

The hope for a life-long healthy brain

Published on 22nd May 2023

Scottish Brain Sciences Founder and CEO, Professor Craig Ritchie says Scotland can set an ambition for every person to live to old age without succumbing to dementia – but says this cannot be achieved by the NHS on its own.

Speaking to Health Correspondent Helen Puttick for an article published in the Sunday Times, Craig says research into neurodegenerative illnesses is providing clear evidence that many are conditions that can be slowed or stopped in their tracks if recognised and treated earlier. So, he says, there are no foregone conclusions:

“People say we are all going to die of something. Fine, but die with a healthy brain. Die knowing your family, die still recognising your grandchildren, die being able to drive, die still being able to read a book.”

Craig talks about his decision, after 33 years, to continue his research outside the NHS where, despite “incredible progress” in understanding, and the advent of promising treatments, little has changed for patients:

“This is the tragedy — it’s not the science we are waiting for,” Craig told the newspaper. “There are drugs that clear amyloid, there are tests that detect amyloid now. The problem is getting them to the people.

“We are ready for this next generation of treatments to start. The problem is the infrastructure is not in place to do it.”

In the article, Craig talks about some of the frustration that led him to decide that he could achieve more by setting up Scottish Brain  Sciences and taking forward our plans to set up dementia prevention research centres in Scotland. These will give patients free access to the latest diagnostic tests with new opportunities to be matched with clinical trials of new treatments.

And he reiterates that, as these will be funded by the companies behind the new medicines, there will never be any cost to people:

“The starting point is we would like to get 1,000 people in Scotland into clinical trials,” Ritchie told the Sunday Times. “The portfolio of drugs that are being developed is large. We want to make sure they come to Scotland.”

Subscribers to The Times can read the full article online here.

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