ALZHEIMER’S Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions affect many people and cause widespread misery and worry. They also have a considerable cost to the NHS, social care and to the wider economy.
When I was first elected to Parliament in 2005 I set up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia and one of the first topics we considered was the need to improve rates of diagnosis, which in itself requires more reliable means of performing that diagnosis. This remains a huge challenge today, which is why I was delighted to welcome my constituent Professor Alan Chalmers of Warwick University and his team to Parliament, along with NHS colleagues and the Alzheimer’s Society, for an event showcasing what might be part of the answer.
Professor Chalmers and his team have developed an easily-administered test of someone’s capacity to detect flavour via taste and smell, which exploits the emerging connection between a loss of taste and smell and subsequent development of, for example, Alzheimer’s Disease. Such a test could be used as a form of screening – triggering a referral for further tests which may lead to an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another neurodegenerative condition.
Early diagnosis can make a huge difference in the way such conditions can be treated and managed, so this could be a vital breakthrough. It is particularly valuable that these flavour tests are so simple to use, meaning that they could be administered in a range of clinical and non-clinical settings.
We can be proud of the fact that this is an innovation discovered in our area that may make a huge difference to those who may contract these terrible diseases worldwide, and I was pleased to be able to introduce the work that has been done to several Parliamentary colleagues and to the relevant Government Minister.
Congratulations to all those who have been involved in the project and the best of luck to them all in making further progress.
Sir Jeremy Wright