Italy is launching a pioneering programme of screening for Alzheimer’s disease

News 6 December, 2017
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    Wednesday, 6 December 2017 11:53

    Wednesday, 6 December 2017 11:53

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    Italy has launched on Wednesday a program, “a pioneer in the world”, aiming to identify people at high risk of developing the disease Alhzeimer to treat it early, in anticipation of the arrival of new drugs.

    The idea is to better target the beneficiaries of these future treatments, the costs of which are poised to be substantial and heavy side effects for the patient.

    “Alzheimer’s is a global problem that it is necessary, if not resolve, at least to manage it with the utmost urgency,” said the Italian minister of Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, in introducing the screening program “Interceptor”.

    “In Italy, the case of dementias represent a million people, of which 600 000 are cases of Alzheimer’s disease, and those numbers are destined to increase in Europe and in the developed countries due to the ageing of the population,” added the minister.

    Italy, which is suffering a chronic deficit of births, the country’s oldest in Europe and the second in the world behind Japan, with an average age in 2016 of 44 years and nine months.

    Figures of concern that have prompted the government to take the lead in managing the disease, in anticipation of the arrival of effective medications, by 2025, emphasized the minister.

    Interceptor is directed to a class of persons specified, with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment), such that an impairment moderate memory or language.

    “They are 735 000 in this case in Italy today, of which 50% will develop Alzheimer’s disease”, explained professor of neurology Paolo Maria Rossini, who oversees the project.

    “Giving these medicines to more than 700 000 people would mean the bankruptcy of our health care system in two years”, explained the researcher.

    Interceptor, therefore, aims to identify people at high risk during the asymptomatic period.

    The State has committed 3.5 million euros in this project, which will involve, over 54 weeks, with 400 volunteer patients with MCI, aged between 50 and 85 years old, and divided in five centres specialised in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

    They will be subjected to a series of tests (analyses of biological or neuropsychological tests…) which will develop the screening model.

    “Ultimately, we will be the first country in the world to have such a device before the announcement of the development of the first drug,” said professor Rossini.

    Experiments are underway on the fifty drugs that have the potential to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease.

    This degenerative pathology of the brain, diagnosed every three seconds in the world, is currently incurable.