Alzheimer's Research U.K., a dedicated dementia research charity, has announced a $46.3 million Drug Discovery Alliance, launching three flagship Drug Discovery Institutes at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and University College London (UCL). The Drug Discovery Institutes will see 90 new research scientists employed in state-of-the-art facilities to fast-track the development of new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Dementia affects over 830,000 people in the U.K. and costs the U.K. economy $35.5 billion a year. Increasing political focus on improving the outlook for people with dementia in recent years has led to small increases in research funding, but there remains a desperate lack of effective treatments for those with the condition. It has been 12 years since the last treatment for dementia was licensed in the U.K. and while current treatments help with symptoms, they are only modestly effective and not suitable for all dementias.
At the G8 Dementia Summit last year, health leaders from across the world pledged a research ambition for a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025. Alzheimer's Research U.K.'s Drug Discovery Alliance will make a major contribution to delivering this ambition—a network of Drug Discovery Institutes dedicated to early stage drug discovery. Each Institute will be led by a chief scientific officer working in tandem with some of the U.K.'s leading academic researchers based at each of the three universities and Alzheimer's Research U.K.'s own in-house research leaders.
With one dementia researcher for every six working on cancer, attracting new expertise to tackle the growing global health problem is crucial. Over the next five years, the Drug Discovery Institutes aim to attract around 90 world-class researchers into dementia drug discovery, who will be equipped with the latest technology and infrastructure through the hosting universities.
Dr. Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer's Research U.K., said, "The Drug Discovery Alliance is one of the first of its kind for dementia research in the world. We're providing the investment and infrastructure that is needed to maintain and grow a healthy pipeline of potential new treatments to take forward into clinical testing. It's only by boosting the number of promising leads to follow-up that we'll have the best chance of developing pioneering medicines that can change the outlook of this devastating condition."