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Dementia Researcher Responds To BBC Panorama Alzheimer’s: A Turning Point?    


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Dr Maura Malpetti is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Frontotemporal dementia and Related Disorders. 

On Monday evening, BBC Panorama broadcasted an episode called: Alzheimer’s: A Turning Point? 

In the Programme, Fergus Walsh followed patients living with Alzheimer’s disease, who have been taking new drugs, Lecanemab and Donanemab as part of the U.K trials. These drugs have been shown to slow down disease progression. 

The program explained the science behind these new drugs, including the associated benefits and risks. 

It also highlighted the challenges that these promising drugs present to healthcare systems around the world. 

Only patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s will be eligible for either drug. An invasive PET scan or lumbar puncture is needed to confirm this and identify high levels of amyloid in the brain. Currently only 2% of patients receive this type of testing. This shows the importance of developing cheap, accurate and rapid ways to diagnose all types of dementia 

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Beyond diagnosis, we need new treatments for dementia

When asked about the programme, Dr Maura Malpetti said: 

“This highlights the critical importance of early detection and accurate diagnosis in improving outcomes for individuals affected by this devastating condition. But beyond diagnosis, we need new treatments for dementia and tools to get the right patient onto the right treatment. And not just Alzheimer’s disease, also other forms of Dementia. My Race Against Dementia funded research aims to identify reliable blood-based tests that could revolutionise treatment strategies: to prove brain inflammation as a target of treatment and the tests to show novel treatments are working. Ultimately enhancing the quality of life for people affected by dementias.” 

Maura received the Race Against Dementia Fellowship in 2021 for her research, which encompasses a multidisciplinary approach to understand the mechanism behind neurodegenerative diseases. 

She is developing prognostic tools for the early detection of dementia to enable better clinical trial outcomes. Maura also enjoys organising research outreach events aimed at people with dementia and their families. 

Veronica Bamford-Deane, Race Against Dementia CEO said: 

“It is such a positive sign that for the first time we have drugs in trial that slow down the progression of the disease. Lecanemab and donanemab have got us in pole position – there is much more to be discovered. 

That is why we are funding high potential, early career researchers so they can pave the way for   future discoveries, testing methods and new generations of treatments.”

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Dementia impacts memory, thinking and behaviour and includes several types of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.


The Race Against Dementia Fellowship Programme funds and supports the world’s most promising scientific talent. We back promising research projects that will accelerate progress towards a cure and treatment.


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