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The forgotten condition: Video shows dementia treatments fall a generation behind cancer

Alzheimer's Society

Yvonne is a cancer survivor, but Derek has dementia that can't be cured.
Drugs that reduce the symptoms but do not cure dementia were developed four decades after drugs that can cure some cancers became available. A new Alzheimer's Society video launched today (Monday 9 December) ahead of the G8 dementia summit in London this week, outlines the generation gap between key milestones in dementia and cancer research.
The film, entitled 'A cure for Derek?', follows the lives of married couple Derek and Yvonne. Derek has dementia and Yvonne has been in remission from breast cancer for 20 years. The film compares the treatments discovered for dementia and cancer respectively. It highlights that while some forms of cancer can now be cured, there is still no cure for dementia.
Watch our video on 'A cure for Derek' - which highlights the lack of advances in dementia research compared to cancer research.

Key research milestones in the video include:
The 38 year gap between the discovery of the first drug – donepezil - to reduce the symptoms of dementia in 1996 compared to the development of first chemotherapy drug to treat cancer in 1958
In 1968 researchers identified an inherited form of cancer for the first time. In 1991 researchers identify an inherited form of dementia for the first time, 23 years later
In 1971 President Nixon declares war on cancer with the National Cancer Act. In 2009 the UK government launches the first National Dementia Strategy in England
In 1978 researchers discover a second type of drug treatment for cancer – tamoxifen. In 2003 researchers discover a second drug - memantine - to reduce the symptoms of dementia
In 1993 researchers develop the first stem cell treatment for a cancer. Today stem cell treatment for dementia is still just an idea
In 1998 the first drug to prevent cancer developing is discovered. Today we don't have any drugs to prevent dementia
In 2006 the first vaccine to reduce the risk of cancer is produced. Today there are no vaccines to prevent dementia
Ahead of the G8 dementia summit, Alzheimer's Society is calling for dementia to be made a priority. Just as President Nixon galvanised the world in 1971 with his war on cancer with the National Cancer Act, the charity calls for similar action to tackle the global dementia crisis.
Kim, daughter of Derek and Yvonne, said:
'I often say that I would rather Dad had an illness like cancer, where, because of research and drugs, he could have got better from it. It is so much harder with what he has.'
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer's Society said:
'The G8 Summit could be the defining moment for dementia that people look back on many years in the future, as many do now for Nixon's declaration on cancer. It is shocking how dementia research is decades behind cancer. Currently there are six times more UK researchers working on cancer than dementia. Now is the time for action and for governments worldwide to step up and commit to a collaborative plan. Many cancers can now be cured, so it is time to find a cure for Derek and the millions living with dementia worldwide.'
Further information

Find out more about the G8 summit on dementia at alzheimers.org.uk/curedementia


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