Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia
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The study led by Monash University has identified a new treatment for patients suffering from behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Considered as the “second most common” form of the brain condition in those under the age of 60, bvFTD could be aided by sodium selenate, the trial suggested.
This trial is the second body of research to confirm that the drug called sodium selenate may benefit patients with dementia.
The study showed it could help slow cognitive decline and neurodegenerative damage, which represents “the hallmark” of various dementia types.
In case you’re not aware, cognitive decline details worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss.
These two problems are common symptoms, pointing to the diagnosis.
While Alzheimer’s disease is one of the best-known dementia types, behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia also represents a common condition.
If you’re not familiar, this type describes “a rapidly progressing destructive disease” that can crop up as early as the age of 35.
“It is characterised by behavioural disturbances and personality changes and can be highly disruptive and distressing for both patients and their families,” the study shares.
Although there were no treatments for bvFTD previously, this study has now “brought” a promise of a change.
It showed that sodium selenate was “safe and well-tolerated” in patients with bvFTD over a period of 12 months.
The study explained: “Importantly, the majority of patients receiving sodium selenate showed no change in their cognitive or behavioural symptoms, and reduced rates of brain atrophy over the trial period.”
The damage in almost half of the cases with this dementia type is triggered by the build-up of a protein called tau.
This protein represents “a major target” for research in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia types.
The study, led by Dr Lucy Vivash, was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions.
According to Dr Vivash, sodium selenate upregulates an enzyme in the brain that effectively breaks down the tau protein.
She said: “We have previously shown, in a Phase 2 trial, that sodium selenate given to patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease resulted in less neurodegeneration than in those who did not.”
The patients with higher levels of selenium, a breakdown product of sodium selenate, in their blood showed less cognitive decline during the trial.
The researchers are now conducting a larger study across Australia and New Zealand to further test the drug.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
According to the NHS, the “common early” symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks (e.g. getting confused over the correct change when shopping)
- Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- Being confused about time and place
- Mood changes.
It’s important to contact your GP if you experience any dementia signs.
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