Scientists say they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about an extensive new range of dementia drugs which are set to launch within the next five years

The race to find an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s is showing signs of real progress, as a record number of drugs will soon be ready to go on the market.

News of the ‘huge increase’ in the number of dementia drugs currently in the later stages of clinical trials, will come as a welcome surprise to more than 850,000 people in the UK whose lives are affected by dementia.

‘The Alzheimer’s disease pipeline, marred by decades of failures and underinvestment, is due for big victories,’ says George Vradenburg, from US campaign group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s which has conducted a detailed analysis of the new drugs currently in the pipeline. ‘Thanks to growing investment from industry leaders, we remain cautiously optimistic that the current crop will bring much-needed solutions to families in the near future.’

Their analysis also reveals which areas of the brain these new drugs are likely to target. It found that 23 drugs in the later stages of clinical trials are designed to target amyloid protein build up, (a prime suspect in cell death and tissue loss in Alzheimer’s) whilst the rest will target neurotransmitter activity.

A drug that can significantly slows down the progress of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, would undoubtedly transform the lives of millions of people worldwide, but there has been no breakthrough treatment for many years and scientists still urge caution. ‘There is no silver bullet when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s’ says Professor David Morgan, one of the scientists who took part in the analysis. ‘But the more we learn about the underlying pathology, the closer we get to a cure for a disease.’

Now we just need to make sure that the people who might be able to benefit from these new drugs will be able to access them when they become available.