Dementia research update: What are the most recent breakthroughs?

Written by: Dr Pravir Sharma
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

Dementia’s impact on a patient’s memory, language and attention skills can seriously detract from their quality of life. The condition has many forms which affect patients in different ways. Additionally, each type of dementia has a different path of progression and therefore a different treatment plan. In this informative article, esteemed consultant psychiatrist Dr Pravir Sharma offers insight on the various forms of dementia and how they progress as well as on the most recent breakthroughs and developments in research of new treatments.





Which is the most serious form of dementia?


Alzheimer’s dementia is slow progressing but there are other types which grow in a step ladder pattern and those which rapidly progress. So, depending how you would view the disabilities that come with dementia, the most serious types can be those which progress very rapidly, such as lewy body or frontotemporal dementias, or ones which are unpredictable, such vascular dementias.


Alzheimer’s dementia slowly progresses and therefore is more predictable in its course. The progression of vascular dementias, on the other hand, depends on a lot of other factors which can be controlled. Monitoring and good control of all types of heart risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension and lipid levels can positively affect the course of vascular dementia.


We understand very little about frontotemporal and lewy body dementias but they are known generally to be more rapidly progressing.



What are the most recent breakthroughs in dementia studies?


Dementia is amongst the most cutting-edge area of scientific research in today’s times. We came close to developing a vaccine for dementia, which was halted for various reasons, but this continues to be researched at present.


There are other avenues of research, such as developing new medications for treating dementia and there is hope in that several candidates have passed their phase two and three trials.


We are also increasing in our understanding of how dementia arises and how it progresses. There are studies currently underway which are trying to understand how doctors can pick up the condition in patients earlier, even before clinical signs become apparent. It is likely that in the next five to ten years, we will have a far clearer understanding of how dementia starts and progresses as well as different ways it can be stopped.



If you are concerned about signs of dementia, you can book a consultation with Dr Sharma by visiting his Top Doctors page.

By Dr Pravir Sharma

Dr Pravir Sharma is a highly-trained consultant psychiatrist in Birmingham, the West Midlands, and specialises in mental health issues in the elderly and general adult psychiatry. His focus also includes depression, dementia and anxiety disorders alongside post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. He is also renowned for his expertise in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Dr Sharma sees patients at Sutton Medical Consulting in Sutton-Coldfield and also provides e-Consultations for international and UK patients.

He completed his basic and postgraduate training at the well-regarded National Institute of Mental Health Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, before moving to the UK to specialise in old-age psychiatry. Dr Sharma worked in a full-time substantive post with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust for more than 18 years retiring from his post in June 2021. He is currently working as a Locum Consultant in a NHS Trust in West Midlands and has also been appointed by the Care Quality Commission as a second opinion doctor. 

Dr Sharma has dedicated his years' training and professional years in psychiatry to treat his patients to the best of his ability. Beyond his full-time work for the NHS and his time with his private clinics, he is also active in medico-legal work. He can act as an expert witness, prepare medico-legal reports, appear in court, and has experience in personal injury, mental capacity and clinical negligence cases relating to his area of expertise. Additionally, he is skilled in acting as an expert witness in cases relating to immigration as well as employment tribunals, the preparation of occupational health or psychiatric reports, including those relating to road traffic accidents, PTSD or industrial or workplace injuries. Dr Sharma is Section 12(2) Approved for the use of Mental Health Act. 

Additionally, Dr Sharma has conducted research and appeared in multiple publications in national and international journals over the years. Keeping his involvement in his field well-rounded, he was also an active member of groups and associations in roles such as medical appraiser, educational supervisor and examiner.

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