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'Giving someone back a life is beyond price': Christian professor welcomes new Alzheimer's drug

by Donna Birrell

A Christian social care expert is welcoming news of a new drug found to slow down the progress of Alzheimer's. 

Lecanemab has been hailed as "momentous" by doctors as it has been found to clear protein found in sufferers' brains which is thought to be the main cause of the disease.

But the timing of diagnosis is crucial because it appears to work better in the very early stages.  

Professor Francis Davis is a former NHS non-executive director and co-founder of several social care charities. He's told Premier:  "This is really good news, but we also have to be quite careful about it.

"About 70,000 people die each year of Alzheimer's in the UK and it looks as though if we can get this new treatment to people early, then over a period of 18 months the trials show that the likelihood of their symptoms progressing, reduce or improve by 27 per cent. 

"So if you could then keep repeating that every 18 months, over a period of time that would stop the build-up of the proteins in the brain that seem to be a cause of Alzheimer's.

"It's like other drugs - if you get it to the right person at the right time in the right place, it works really well. So if the GP senses that that little bit of memory loss, that bit of tremor, that funny kind of loss of sense, is more than just being tired and identifies Alzheimer's early on, then it would work well.

"It's a huge hope and I'm really positive about it. If we can slow that process and give people back months and years, that's going to be absolutely brilliant."

Professor Davis said the new drug could cost up to £80,000 a year to administer, so for a patient who lives with Alzheimer's for ten years that would cost around £1m.

"It's a tragedy that at the moment of hope we start talking about money," he said. 

"But yes, if we give someone back a life, that's beyond price, and if we give someone back years of life, and we give a mum back her life with her kids or a dad, that's beyond price, but it also gives back the lives of those who are carers. 

"What you normally get with a good drug is a win, win all the way through because the person stays better longer. And those around them can work and contribute in that economic sense of the word longer. But you also get a lift of wellbeing, don't you? And that in itself is something that we should cherish."

The large-scale trial involved almost 2000 volunteers with early stage Alzheimer's. 

The results showed that decline was slowed by around a quarter over the course of the 18 months of treatment.



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