How significant are developments in making Alzheimer’s brain cells in the lab?

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Dementia has been described as a “time bomb” in society. As more people are living longer, more are being affected by the illness which slowly but surely annihilates brain function.

More than 750,000 people in the UK already have dementia, forecasts say there will be one million dementia patients by 2021 and 1.5 million by 2051. The cost to health services and the economy is already put at more than £20bn each year.

However, the scale of the problem is in stark contrast to the level of understanding. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, yet the cause is unknown and there is no cure.

When it comes to studying dementia you cannot simply take samples of brain tissue from patients to understand what is going on or to test treatments. Research requires good “models” of the disease instead, something many scientists would argue are not good enough.

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