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Alzheimer Europe Lunch debate focuses on current and future treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

Tuesday 27 June 2017

On 27 June, Alzheimer Europe held a successful lunch debate in the European Parliament chaired by MEP Deirdre Clune (Ireland) which focused on the current and future treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia.

The lunch debate gathered over 50 people including MEPs Heinz Becker (Austria) Nessa Childers (Ireland) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland) and Sofia Ribeiro (Portugal). The audience included representatives from 19 Alzheimer Europe member associations and several pharmaceutical companies.

The numbers of people with dementia in Europe is increasing and still there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease (AD) or any other common type of dementia.

Medicines have been developed for AD that can temporarily alleviate symptoms, or slow down their progression in some people, but these treatments have limited efficacy.

Yet, despite an unprecedented research focus on AD and dementia at European and global level, attempts to develop new drugs for treating Alzheimer’s disease have so far been unsuccessful.

However our understanding of the underlying disease processes causing Alzheimer’s dementia has increased. The four speakers at the lunch debate presented an overview of past present and future treatment and research into treatments for AD.

The first speaker was Prof. Alexander Kurz, (Technical University of Munich, Germany) who highlighted the current pharmacological treatment and non-pharmacological management options.

The second speaker was Prof. Simon Lovestone, (University of Oxford, United Kingdom) who gave an update on researchers’ latest understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia. He was hopeful that a cure can be found despite the current failure rate of research compared to other diseases.

Prof. Bengt Winblad (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden) the third speaker, gave an overview of ongoing clinical trials including preventative strategies,

Dr Elisabetta Vaudano from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), presented the public private partnership of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), their efforts to speed up the drug discovery process and how the European Union and IMI are supporting efforts to identify new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

The question and answer session was very lively with MEP Sofia Ribeiro kicking off with a question on Brexit and the impact on research, and what would be the effect for the rest of Europe since so much research was taking place within the UK.

MEP Heinz Becker stated he was very impressed with the debate and offered the full support of the European Parliament asking what academia and research needed.

MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen thanked AE for an inspiring interactive and a high quality meeting but commented “What if we have got it wrong? How serious is this, could it be the “the 4th type of diabetes” Helen Rochford Brennan from the European Working Group of People with Dementia also commented, asking “are we really looking in the right place?”

Executive Director Jean Georges commented, “It is great to hear this message of hope and the new focus on preventing Alzheimer’s dementia. What are the perspectives for people already at the dementia stage or those with other forms of dementia?”

MEP Deirdre Clune summed up, thanking all the speakers and saying that she felt inspired and that with the collaboration at European level she had more hope for a new treatment and eventually a cure for AD.

Iva Holmerová, Chair of Alzheimer Europe closed the lunch debate with the launch of AE’s new publication, the “European Dementia Monitor 2017”, which highlights the existing inequalities in access to dementia care and treatment across Europe.

The next lunch debate will be help on 5 December 2017.

A full report can be read hereunder (PDF download).