Posted by Jed Wieland on Jun 12, 2017

Dr Simcock is now the Neurological Foundation’s medical adviser and came to speak to us about neurological disease and to help the clarification around definition and illnesses that make up the ailments that are generally discussed under the heading Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is about the loss of the ability to think, memory can be impaired, abilities around the ability to calculate, sound judgement and language. Essentially dementia is a description of a cluster of symptoms with several difficult causes.

These include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as head injuries and other structural brain disorders, toxins etc.

Alzheimer’s at 34% makes up the largest group of people affected. Currently there is no effective cure for Alzheimer’s however there is a large knowledge base and hopes are high for improved treatment options within the next decade.

The statistics went on to identify Fronto – temporal dementia (judgement and speech etc), Parkinson’s (which people can live with for up to 20 years), Cerebrovascular (multiple small strokes) and possibly concussion, and alcohol.

Dr. Simcock dispelled several myths around the prevention of the onset of Alzheimer’s including thoughts around nutrition, exposure to certain substances and the like. But he did emphasise the importance of controlled blood pressure, controlling diabetes and taking regular exercise as potentially being of benefit.

Dr Simcock also outlined some of the good prospects emerging for treatment for these diseases such as:

  • Stem cell therapy in the longer term as it still faced significant hurdles
  • Monoclonal antibodies, similar in the treatments of melanoma designed to interrupt the spread of disease
  • Biomarkers, a developing technology which is hoped will provide early warning

However, there is no one medicine that will be a comprehensive cure and in the future treatment is likely to be with a cocktail of medications.

Age seems to be the main factor with these diseases with low incidence for those below 65, then increasing at an increasing rate to 50% of those in their 90’s.

A sobering projection that by 2050 the number of people in Britain who will have some of form dementia will equal the number of people in full employment concluded the presentation and the message around the importance of research.

Referring to funding research, Dr Simcock described how projects were put up and then underwent a rigour process of peer review. It was only once the project was proven in this way that funds were allocated on a project by project basis and with that he gratefully accepted a cheque in the sum of $6,000 which largely represented the proceeds of the Bangers to Bluff initiative.