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Call for research to help improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Disease should be a research priority for EU, say patient and industry groups

The EU should do more to improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, including by boosting research, according to groups representing patients, drug companies and other biomedical organisations.

The European Brain Council, a network of patient-advocacy organisations and learned academies, teamed up with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations to publish a white paper on 16 March calling for a “rethink” of Alzheimer’s detection and diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s affects almost 7 million people in the EU, the groups said, causing dementia that in turn “robs people of their memory, their independence, their relationships and, ultimately, their lives”.

Under present healthcare practices, detection and diagnosis generally only takes place once the disease is already advanced, they said. To enable diagnosis at an earlier stage, when treatments may be more effective, they called for a transformation of healthcare, as well as for more research on biological markers of the disease to be considered.

The EU should “make full use” of its health and research funding programmes to improve detection and diagnosis, the groups recommended. They also called on the European Parliament to help make dementia an EU research priority.

Backing the plan, MEP Deirdre Clune called for an increase in research funding, adding: “We now know that we can achieve a lot through collaboration. It’s now time to put dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at the centre stage.”