When both her grandparents developed dementia, Dr Penny Foulds decided to give up her career as a science teacher and join the search for a cure. Here Penny explains how she’s supporting researchers to bring a new dementia drug to the market.
A research team at Lancaster University refused to be defeated when their work on a ground breaking Alzheimer’s drug hit a brick wall, due to a funding gap. Instead, they launched the ‘Defying Dementia’ campaign to raise money for the necessary biomedical research.
Dr Penny Foulds, MAC Clinical Research and Honorary Researcher at Lancaster University, hopes that Defying Dementia will help to bridge the funding gap by attracting investment, so that the team can continue developing their drug which may have the potential to stop the progression of the senile plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Tests so far have proven that it can preserve memory and stop the senile plaques developing in an Alzheimer’s brain. ‘There are lots of things that we need to do before a pharmaceutical company would adopt it for human clinical trials,’ says Penny who went back to university to study brain diseases after both her grandparents developed Alzheimer’s in their 70’s. ‘We need to find out what dose we would give to a person, and whether it would be delivered as an injection or a pill for example.
“We wouldn’t say our drug was a cure, but it would be given in the first instance to someone getting memory problems. We believe it stops the building blocks of the senile plaques forming in the brain, blocks their toxic effect on brain cells and we also believe that it may actually preserve memory.‘
The drug will be progressing into Phase 1 human clinical trials run by the Blackpool based research company MAC Clinical Research. If it passes regulatory hurdles, the ultimate aim is to give the drug to people with mild symptoms of memory loss.
As well as working towards getting more medications for people with dementia, Penny is also committed to supporting those who already have a diagnosis within the community.
Penny chairs the Lancaster Dementia Action Alliance and founded The Bay Dementia Hub. This project brings together many different services providers under one roof at the same time. Taking place on the first Friday of every month, between 1.30pm and 3.30pm, at St John’s Hospice, Lancaster, the Hub is a unique, community based service with open access for residents with dementia, their families, friends and carers as well as anyone who may be worried about their memory. Matron Dianne Smith from Morecambe Bay Hospital Trust and co-founder of the Hub, says ‘The North West should be very proud. There are people in our area at the forefront of making a big difference to people living with dementia.’
As a member of many Dementia Action Alliances across the North West, Penny spread the word about the concept of the Hub, and there are now Dementia Hubs around the North West; “People affected by dementia can feel isolated, so the hubs are brilliant places to get practical support all under one roof.”
There is also a very special event taking place at Lancaster University on Saturday 16th September, called the Defying Dementia Day, which is aimed at members of the public. This free event is a unique opportunity to bring together everyone in the North West with an interest in dementia –- to share and learn from one another. Click here for more information and to register.