Dementias Platform UK: A powerhouse for dementia research
24 Oct 2014
A ground-breaking, multimillion pound collaboration between industry and academia, set up by the Medical Research Council, will hold its inaugural conference on 28th October 2014. The Dementias Platform UK received a huge investment through the Clinical Research Infrastructure Initiative (CRII), announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, bolstering its funding base to £53million.
World leading researchers from Universities across the UK (Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Imperial College, Oxford, Manchester, Newcastle, Swansea and UCL) and six companies (GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Research & Development, AstraZeneca-MedImmune, Ixico, SomaLogic and Araclon) will use state of the art technology to:
- Get a better understanding who is at risk of developing dementia and why the progression of the disease varies from person to person
- Explore the anatomy of the disease to help develop new medicines and enable more accurate diagnosis
- Look into how existing drugs which are used to treat other conditions might help to treat the progression of dementia and improve symptoms.
Using health and lifestyle information from over two million people over the age of 50, as well as data from the lab, the MRC’s Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) will focus on improving early detection, treatment and ultimately the prevention of dementias.
The Platform, formally known as the UK Dementia Research Platform (UKDP), will create the world’s largest study group for use in dementia research. It will allow researchers to examine dementia in a whole new way, investigating not just what is going wrong in the brain, but at the brain in the context of the whole body. The Platform will look at the causes of dementia across a range of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease.
Professor Hugh Perry, Chair of the MRC Neurosciences and Mental Health Board said:
“The Dementias Platform UK is the culmination of years of dedicated work undertaken by the Medical Research Council, to identify and tackle the problems facing dementia research. Talking to scientists, it became clear that a new way of researching the disease was needed – a collaborative approach that took advantage of the wealth of population studies in the UK. I think people will look back on the creation of the Platform as a watershed moment in the study of dementias, holding the key to accelerating treatments and ultimately prevention of the disease.”
Professor John Gallacher, Director of the Dementias Platform UK said:
“If we can delay the onset of dementia by just a few years, we can halve the number of people who die from the disease. By bringing together the best scientific minds to discover the causes of these terrible diseases, we can and will beat them.”
George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences said:
“In our ageing society tackling dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS and care system in the 21st century. The government’s commitment to investment in dementia infrastructure and research is vital if we are to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in life sciences and get patients earlier access to new treatments. By better understanding how the disease works we will be able to make a huge difference to patients’ and their families lives. These efforts will not only raise standards but reduce costs and make the UK the best place in the world to study dementia.”
Dementia research benefited from significant investment as part of the Clinical Research Infrastructure Initiative awards last week. Three networks will be established for informatics, stem cell research and PET-MRI imaging, with scanners for imaging the brain placed in centres across the UK. These scanners provide critical tools for understanding disease onset and progression and following the impact of treatments.
At the University of Cambridge a further £6.95m award was made for a new 7T MRI scanner and University College London were awarded £1.22m for an upgrade to their 3T MRI scanner at their dedicated Dementia Research Scanner Centre at Queen Square. These significant investments combine to create a groundswell of innovation and excellence in dementia research in the UK.