Samuel L Jackson blames ‘cruel’ Alzheimer’s for ravaging his family as he admits he has lost SIX relatives to the degenerative disease
Published: 00:04 BST, 16 September 2019 | Updated: 00:10 BST, 16 September 2019
Samuel L Jackson has said that Alzheimer’s disease has ravaged his family.
The Hollywood star is backing a campaign to battle the misconception that dementia is an inevitability of old age, hitting back at this by using his own personal experiences as an example.
The Jurassic Park actor, 70, has called for support to end the ‘cruel’ condition that he has seen six of his relatives live with.
The good fight: Samuel L Jackson has claimed that Alzheimer’s disease has ravaged his family
His mother, grandfather, aunts and uncles were diagnosed with the form of dementia, ultimately making him a stranger to them.
As part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s #ShareTheOrange campaign, which aims to get people to think differently about dementia, he said: ‘I’ve been surrounded by Alzheimer’s most of my life.
‘My grandfather was my best friend growing up, so it was heart-breaking for me to see him not know who I was.
‘The same happened with my mother soon after she was diagnosed. Her mother had it, her brother had it, her sister had it, and so did my aunt on my father’s side.
Misconception: The Hollywood star is backing a campaign to battle the idea that dementia is an inevitability of old age, hitting back at this by using his own personal experiences as an example
‘It is so cruel having someone who has nurtured you and taken care of you reach a point where they can’t even recall your name.’
Alzheimer’s Research UK uses the symbol of an orange in its campaign to symbolise the weight of the matter lost in the brain as the condition develops.
In a new short film, produced by Aardman Animations, Jackson says: ‘The damage to a brain with Alzheimer’s can leave it weighing 140g less than a healthy one. That’s about the weight of an orange… this shows us it is a physical disease.’
Jackson and the charity are hoping to show the public that Alzheimer’s is not an inevitable part of ageing, but a disease that can be stopped and potentially cured.
As part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s #ShareTheOrange campaign, which aims to get people to think differently about dementia, he said: ‘I’ve been surrounded by Alzheimer’s most of my life’
He went on: ‘With research we know diseases can be slowed, they can be stopped.’
The Pulp Fiction and Unbreakable star follows Bryan Cranston and Christopher Eccleston, who have both backed the campaign launched by the charity in 2016.
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Alzheimer’s Research UK relies almost entirely on public donations to support its work, and the enduring misconception that dementia is an inevitability hinders our ability to recruit volunteers for research, secure funding and press for further government support for research.
‘We’re calling on the public to #ShareTheOrange, turn fatalism into hope and make dementia the next big medical success story.’
THE WAR ON ALZHEIMER’S: MORE THAN 150 TRIALS HAVE FAILED IN 20 YEARS
Scientists have for years been scrambling to find a way to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for around two thirds of the 50million dementia patients worldwide.
But attempts to tackle the brain-destroying disease have been beset with failures.
In March this year the pharmaceutical company Biogen abandoned two late-stage trials of a promising Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab, which it hoped would work by clearing the brain of sticky build-ups.
After years of research and testing the company decided its prospects looked poor in the end stages of a human trial and pulled the plug, wiping $18billion (£13.8bn) off its own market value.
In January, the firm Roche announced it was discontinuing two trials which were in their third phase of human testing.
It was trying to develop crenezumab, which worked by preventing build-up of plaques in the brain and had already been proven safe, but wasn’t having the desired results.
Between 1998 and 2017 there were around 146 failed attempts to develop Alzheimer’s drugs, according to science news website, BioSpace.
Billions of dollars have been invested in the industry and a successful, marketable treatment would likely make a fortune for the company which gets there first.
Experts have said a difficulty in testing drugs on the right people may be partly to blame – Alzheimer’s is rarely diagnosed before it has taken hold and, by that time, it is often too late or studying people becomes too difficult.
For drugs which try to modify the course of a disease, trials often have to be longer and more in-depth, making them more difficult and costly, researchers wrote in the journal Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs.
The same researchers added scientists may be struggling to find the correct dose of drugs which could work, and that they may be recruiting the wrong types of people to test them on.