Early detection of neurodegenerative disease in primary care and the community

One day invite-only workshop, 10:00 - 16:30, Wednesday 28 February 2024

Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place, London

On Wednesday 28 February the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FORUM hosted a workshop on ‘Early detection of neurodegenerative disease in primary care and the community’, in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society.

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of conditions in which nerve cells in the brain and wider nervous system lose function over time. This process is called  ‘neurodegeneration’. These neurodegenerative conditions can include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and frontotemporal dementia. Collectively, neurodegenerative diseases present a major health challenge. Over one million people are living with a neurodegenerative disease in the UK. The expectation is this number will grow.

Receiving a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease is life-altering for both the person living with the condition and their family and friends. There is currently limited emotional and practical support for patients and their families. The diagnostic process can often be long and emotionally challenging. Patients and families often have limited options once they receive a diagnosis. However, an earlier diagnosis can allow patients to modify their lifestyle to slow disease progression, and to access support and opportunities to participate in research. In future, early diagnosis may be required to allow patients to receive new treatments, as they become available, to slow cognitive decline. There are many barriers to the timely detection and diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease, such as capacity issues, local variations in available diagnostic services, and difficulties identifying early symptoms. The emergence of diagnostic tests, including bodily fluid tests for biomarkers of a disease and digital tools, present an opportunity to detect disease earlier. Adapting and adopting these diagnostic tools in primary care and community health could give patients without a neurodegenerative disease clarity sooner, and it could improve the accuracy and speed of referrals to specialist diagnostic services. This would allow resources to be directed to those who most need it.

This FORUM workshop brought together individuals from industry, academia, healthcare and beyond. The workshop included developers of diagnostic tools, regulators, funders, medical research charities, and patients and carers. Participants considered the current opportunities and challenges of detecting neurodegenerative disease in primary and community care. We explored how we can adapt tools for detecting neurodegenerative diseases in these settings.

This one-day workshop took place in-person at 41 Portland Place, London on Wednesday 28 February. For further information, please contact [email protected]


The Academy’s FORUM provides a neutral and independent platform for individuals from across academia, industry, the NHS and Government, and the charity, regulatory and wider healthcare sector, to meet and take forward national discussions on scientific opportunities, technology trends and associated strategic choices for healthcare. Find out more.

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