Oct 15, 2012

UK Bids to Become World Leader in Dementia Research

The UK wants to be a world-leader in dementia research, but only by international collaboration can we tackle the global challenge of this condition.

Alzheimer's Reading Room

UK Bids to Become World Leader in Dementia Research

The UK Government brought together pharmaceutical industry leaders and biotech experts to showcase the UK’s world-leading research facilities and discuss how to drive forward global work against dementia.

As part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia the showcase event highlighted the unique offer the UK can make to the industry as it searches for new ways to tackle the condition.

More than 150 global leaders from research, charities, biotech and pharmaceutical attended the invite-only event, to discover more about the UK’s world-class research universities, the power of the NHS’ unique patient data and the varied sources of funding available – from government and leading charities.

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UK Bids to Become World Leader in Dementia Research with Call for Global Collaboration

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:
“The UK wants to be a world-leader in dementia research, but only by international collaboration can we tackle the global challenge of this condition." “By bringing the industry together to discuss how the UK’s unique research resources can make a difference we are taking bold steps towards boosting dementia research." “With up to 115 million people worldwide due to be affected by dementia by 2050, including a possible 1.7 million in the UK, this is truly a global
problem that requires governments to take action.”

Attendees at the event discussed the challenges of dementia research, the barriers faced by the industry and how the UK can respond.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said:
“We are all facing an unprecedented health challenge from dementia as the population ages, but the challenge of finding effective treatments is one we cannot under-estimate.

“The UK understands that only by offering the right research environment and support for industry can we all work together towards a common goal of tackling this condition.”

The event showcased the UK at a marketplace event. Delegates learned how the country’s clinical research resources are well-placed to help bring about new discoveries – from understanding the fundamental biological processes underlying dementia, through to translating these into the clinical setting and on to the development of potential new therapies.

The UK can offer the industry access to: basic science – neuro-imaging and tissue banks; translational research – epidemiology, genetics and novel biomarkers; clinical research – the unique resources of the NHS, including access to patients through the National Institute for Health Research Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disease Research Network (NIHR DeNDRoN); and an unrivalled wealth of patient data – the UK’s unique Clinical Practice Research Datalink can give access to anonymised NHS clinical data for observational research.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“The UK boasts some of the world's leading dementia research scientists, and we need to match that brain power with the right environment for research to thrive. “As the number of people in the UK living with dementia spirals towards a million, charities, government and industry must join forces to ensure that research successes are translated into patient benefits. This event provides a platform to demonstrate the unique research opportunities provided by the NHS, our leading academic centres and flexible funding. A thriving research sector is our only hope for defeating dementia.”

The scale of the challenge created by dementia is clear: in England today 670,000 people are living with dementia – a number expected to increase with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future. And the economic cost of dementia is £19 billion a year – more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.

Dr. Michael Krams, Head of Neurology, Janssen Research & Development, LLC said:
“This is a great opportunity to build a consensus towards collaborative working with academia, industry and government." However we acknowledge there remains much work to do to better understand the biology of dementia and provide sufferers with treatment and prevention. We believe the UK is well placed to provide the range of research resources needed to make progress and this is why Janssen is firmly committed to public-private partnerships in the UK to study Alzheimer’s disease.”

Clive Ballard, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Society, said:
“Events like this are a key way to foster exciting and groundbreaking partnerships between pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, charities and other funding providers. By working together, we can promote innovation in dementia research and help position the UK as a world leader in the field.

There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK. It is vital that we find ways to translate the great work that is already going on in the labs into treatments that can help people live well with dementia today and ultimately find a cure.”

More than 150 of the sector’s top researchers, foundations, charities, pharmaceutical and biotech companies attended, including the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Eli Lilly, Janssen Research & Development, GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics and GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Michael Hutton, Chief Scientific Officer, Drug Hunting Team, Neurodegeneration, Eli Lilly and Company, UK said:
“The UK has a world-class reputation for neuroscience research and remains fertile ground for basic science and drug discovery in this field.

Lilly scientists collaborate with leading UK academic institutions in the search for new therapies for Alzheimer's Disease that will aim to both improve the lives of patients and reduce the burden of dementia on health and social care systems throughout the world. That’s one of the reasons why Lilly has invested over £100 million in our Surrey based Research Centre over the past decade, and why we continue to invest millions of pounds annually on R&D in the UK. However, dementia is one of the great research challenges of our time so it is encouraging to see such a positive response from government to this global healthcare need.”


Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room