Today the first 27 foundation research programmes at the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) are announced.
Worth a combined investment of £55m, the programmes will provide answers to some of the most pressing questions in the field of neurodegenerative disease.
Five new UK DRI centres are to join the headquarters at University College London (UCL), laying the foundations for an eventual 400-strong community of UK DRI researchers. Centres will be established across the country at the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, The University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King’s College London.
Utilising state-of-the-art research ad imaging facilities at these leading UK Universities, the foundation programmes will broaden out the traditional view of neurodegenerative disease as a disorder of misfolded proteins, to consider the proteins in the complex environment of the brain. By investigating new molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for neurodegenerative brain diseases, the institute hopes to reinvigorate the discovery pipeline for dementia drugs.
UK DRI researchers will explore ways to manipulate the brain’s natural defence mechanisms such as the cold shock response, autophagy and innate immunity to identify novel drug candidates that can be put to the test. They will also turn their attention to the role of metabolism, sleep and bacteria in the gut, all which are increasingly implicated in determining the likelihood of developing dementia.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said:
“Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer and is devastating the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. With no treatments to slow, stop or prevent dementia, the UK DRI could not come at a better time. The institute provides a dynamic, collaborative and fresh approach which will transform dementia research and deliver life changing discoveries for people affected by dementia. It’s incredibly exciting to see its first pioneering research programmes take shape across the six centres.”
“Alzheimer’s Society has committed £50m to fund new research at the institute, maximising the impact it will have on people with dementia today and in the future. With the first foundation research programmes now in place, we have the right ingredients for innovative discovery research that will rejuvenate the dementia treatment pipeline.”