Alzheimer’s on  the rise

Twenty countries are teaming up to study Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, in the first test of a new approach to research in Europe.

Outlined by the commission last year, the recommended measures encourage EU countries to pool resources for research so they don’t duplicate efforts and waste precious funds.

EU leaders endorsed the ‘joint programming’ concept in December on condition the projects were voluntary and aimed at a European or global issue. Dementia was seen as a good subject for a pilot project because it is a growing problem in all EU countries and the costs of care are huge – about 130 billion euros in 2005.

About 7.3 million people in the EU have some form of dementia, a number expected to double over the next 20 years. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause, accounting for 70 per cent of all cases of dementia.