New drug sparks hope for dementia sufferers
A new drug has been created using pig brain cells to treat a form of dementia suffered by more than 100,000 people.
The new medication, called Cerebrolysin, has been trialed with encouraging results for those with vascular dementia, one of the most common forms of the disease. Tests have shown a significant improvement in sufferers’ memory and thinking, provoking new hope for an incurable disease.
Currently it is thought that 136,000 people have this kind of dementia, which is second only to Alzheimer’s. Symptoms of the two diseases are similar and include bouts of severe confusion and difficulty communicating, thinking quickly and concentrating.
Cerebrolysin is made using proteins found in pigs’ brains and is not yet licensed in the UK.
Six randomised trials were carried out by a team at the Cochrane Collaboration and involved 597 people who were treated with the drug daily for varying amounts of time.
Results showed a significant improvement in memory, arithmetic and thinking ability. It is thought that if patients took the drug for longer they would see even greater improvements, but there have only been two long-term trials so far.
Researcher Li He from the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University (Sichuan, China) has said:
“The results are promising but due to low numbers of trials, inconsistencies between trials, risk of bias in the way some of the trials were conducted and lack of long-term follow-up, we cannot yet recommend Cerebrolysin as a routine treatment for vascular dementia.”
Continued testing will need to take place to see if Cerebrolysin will be a viable option for vascular dementia sufferers in the future. These trials should give hope to those suffering from the disease that science is starting to understand the complexities of the human brain – and that a treatment will soon be found.
If you are struggling to deal with dementia, speaking to a counsellor could help. For further information, please see our fact sheet about counselling for Dementia.
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