Dementia In a New Era: Takeaways from The World Dementia Council Summit

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In March 2023, the World Dementia Council (WDC) held a one-day summit in London. Presentations and discussions focused on the rapidly developing opportunities for advances in dementia prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in the decade ahead, as well as new challenges for how patients are diagnosed, how treatments are delivered and paid for, and how health systems provide support and care. 

Dr. Salloway at WDC SummitThere were more than 150 participants in attendance, including international dementia experts from academia and pharmaceuticals, government leaders and policymakers, foundations and funders, the World Health Organization, and patient advocates.

Among them - Stephen Salloway, MD, MS, founder of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital, “Martin M. Zucker Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Professor of Neurology” at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Associate Director of the Brown Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research

Summit Summarized
Here, Dr. Salloway summarizes key themes and takeaways from the summit.

The lively discussion was hosted by my close colleague and friend, Sir Philip Scheltens, Professor of Cognitive Neurology, Director of the Alzheimer Center at the University of Amsterdam Medical Centers, and Chair of the World Dementia Council.

Much of the discussion was focused on new biomarkers for early detection, emerging treatments, and equity in care and prevention. Here are some of the key themes and takeaways from those discussions:

  • There is a compelling urgency to bring new biomarkers and treatments and improve patient care worldwide.
  • Dramatic inequities in access to care and the prevailing “ageism” need to be addressed and overcome.
  • Blood biomarkers show great promise and need to be implemented into practice as soon as possible for timely diagnosis and to monitor treatment outcomes.
  • “Digital is the new blood.” Partnerships are needed with the technology sector to improve the assessment of real-world outcomes and find new ways to deliver better care.
  • Regulators and funders should require that clinical trial data be shared on par with data sharing in observational studies to optimize discovery.
  • Amplifying the patient's voice and perspective is critical for moving the field forward.
  • Investments must be made in healthcare systems in parallel with research studies to implement new treatments and tests when they become available.
  • Primary care needs to become more involved in implementing advances in research and care.

United Kingdom Science Minister George Freeman closed the meeting by announcing that the UK has a new Department for Science and Innovation with increased funding for AD research. There will be follow-up meetings as part of the G-7 health ministerial meeting in Nagasaki, Japan, in May and the Netherlands in the fall.

What is the World Dementia Council?
The World Dementia Council is an international charity established by the G8 (now G7) at the London Dementia Summit in 2013. At the London summit, the G8 made historic commitments to improve the lives of people affected by dementia today and to speed up the development of disease-modifying drugs so that the first treatment is available by 2025.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis.  If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment.