With the G8 Dementia Summit one month away, the UK’s leading dementia research charity Alzheimer’s Research UK has announced a first of its kind in Europe with the launch of a Drug Discovery Institute to develop new treatments for dementia. The launch has been warmly welcomed by dementia research experts from around the world.
The Institute will overcome one of the main barriers to research into Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia, bridging the gap between academic research which provides much of the fundamental insight into neurodegenerative disease, and the development of new treatments.
Finding medicines for complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s requires the integration of pioneering basic science, clinical expertise and the involvement of patients. The Drug Discovery Institute will achieve all three by finding its home with a leading academic group that has close access to clinical research units and hospitals.
A Call for the UK’s foremost universities to apply to host the Institute has been launched today and will be advertised in the journal Nature next week. The Institute is set to have its lead scientists in place by next year. The Institute’s work will be guided by Alzheimer’s Research UK and leading drug discovery experts from the dementia research field.
Launching the Drug Discovery Institute, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Director of Research, Dr Eric Karran, said:
“The Drug Discovery Institute is the missing link between the UK’s considerable expertise in fundamental science, and industry who can turn discoveries into benefits for people with dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is in a unique position to bring the academic and industrial sectors together in the interests of tackling our greatest medical challenge and it is the right time to launch this drive.
“We currently have no treatments that act against the disease processes that cause dementia; this Institute will change that. The Institute will be the first of its kind in Europe, and will follow successful models established in other disease areas like cancer. As the population ages, numbers of people living with dementia will grow; the need for treatments that can improve quality of life or slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s cannot be overstated.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion Rosemary Goddard, from Surrey, knows only too well the need for research into dementia – her husband Tony was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s seven years ago, when he was just 63.
“Tony worked on our dairy farm for 35 years, but shortly after he retired, his health began to decline and I began to notice signs that something was seriously wrong. When he was first diagnosed, Tony was quickly prescribed Aricept, and later he began taking Ebixa. The drugs helped manage his symptoms for a time but they couldn’t stop the disease advancing, and two years ago he had to move into a nursing home where he could receive specialist attention. “I would dearly love to see better treatments to slow or even stop the progress of the disease, and I’m delighted to see Alzheimer’s Research UK taking the lead in this search for more effective drugs. With the population living longer, dementia is hanging over us all like the sword of Damocles, and I have to hold on to hope that research will defeat this dreadful condition.”