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Brain samples needed for research were left to deteriorate in unoccupied labs at the height of the lockdown. Studies on the most common form of dementia were disrupted or stalled. Funding cuts and the start of a feared flight of scientists added to problems.
The Alzheimer’s Society (AS), which saw a 42 percent fall in planned investment over 2019-20, has not launched a study in nearly two years.
There are no treatments to slow the progression of the degenerative disease nor to halt or reverse it.
Researchers had been confident momentum was at last being gained in understanding the cause of Alzheimer’s.
A report from the all-party Parliamentary group on dementia warns progress may be set back 10 years without immediate Government support.
Boris Johnson promised in 2019 to double dementia research funding, but no plans have been announced.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that some 30 percent of Alzheimer’s scientists have considered leaving academia because of a funding squeeze.
Debbie Abrahams, co-chairman of the MPs’ group, said: “People with dementia were worst-hit by coronavirus.
“So we owe them a serious effort in research to one day find life-changing treatments for what is a devastating disease.
“I echo the AS’s warning that, if we do nothing, we risk setting back dementia research by 10 years.”
Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the charity, said: “Dementia research, despite chronic underfunding, had been gaining momentum and starting to deliver some really exciting results.”
She continued: “But the impact of the pandemic has been devastating – over half of our researchers had stopped part or all of their research in January 2021.
“This is an enormous tragedy for people with dementia, who have been worst affected by coronavirus, not just in terms of deaths but from isolation and scant support.”
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