Norfolk MP George Freeman: “Alzheimer’s and dementia is a ticking time bomb at the heart of healthcare in the UK”
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2013
With our ageing society, Alzheimer's and dementia is a ticking time bomb at the heart of healthcare in the UK. Already accounting for £23bn of cost to the UK, the disease has a devastating impact on those affected, and their loved ones and carers.
The UK is pioneering new treatment and preventative intervention.
We need both drugs to treat the disease and ways to delay and prevent onset.
The Prime Minister is personally leading the UK's dementia strategy – seen with the G8 Dementia Summit today – and, with world class research like that being done by Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK has every chance of winning.
Much great work is being done in the Eastern region. Recently I visited Alzheimer's Research UK's cutting edge lab in Cambridge.
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Dr Livesey and his team are working on a major project using stem cells to study Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, backed by a £350,000 grant from Alzheimer's Research UK. Using cutting-edge techniques that depend on the Nobel prize-winning research of Prof John Gurdon – the founder of the Institute – the scientists are using stem cells donated by people with a high risk of Alzheimer's, which can be used to generate networks of functioning nerve cells in the lab.
These networks resemble the complex wiring of cells in the human cerebral cortex, which makes up over three quarters of the brain and is damaged in Alzheimer's disease. Because these stem cell-generated networks suffer similar damage, they provide a valuable tool for studying the disease and testing potential new treatments.
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I also recently attended the Norfolk Care Conference where Dementia was central to the discussions as well as seeing the frontline of Dementia care at the Wymondham Dementia Support Group (WDSG) Cafe. The café supports 30 people with dementia and their carers. WDSG has been working in partnership with age UK Norfolk, Wymondham town council and the local business community raising awareness of dementia to make Wymondham a dementia-friendly community.
Tackling this dreadful disease is fundamentally about liberating older people to live fulfilled and productive lives with dignity, and supporting the incredible work that carers do. We need to get away from thinking that dementia is just something old people get, and instead see it for the corrosive disease it is. And, above all, we must remember the awful impact it has on so many lives.
Indeed, seeing the devastating effect dementia has in our community redoubles my commitment to make sure we tackle this disease in every way possible. Today's summit is the start of that journey.
Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman is hosting the Alzheimer's UK Dementia Westminster reception today to bring together MPs and peers together to highlight awareness and help launch a new £3m Dementia Consortium.