A £30m national network of research centres devoted to developing new drugs for the treatment of patients with dementia was launched in England on 16 February 2015.
Three drug discovery institutes have been established at Oxford, Cambridge and UCL universities. They will work collaboratively but each will have its own chief scientific officer leading their own academic research teams.
The aim over the next five years is to attract 90 researchers from around the world so that the centres become global leaders in dementia drug discovery, says Alzheimer’s Research UK, the charity behind the initiative.
The charity’s director of research Eric Karran says the research alliance, one of the first of its kind in the world for dementia, will be a “scientific tour de force”.
“We’re providing the investment and the infrastructure that is needed to maintain and grow a healthy pipeline of potential new treatments to take forward into clinical testing,” he says.
The intention is to attract other institutes to join the alliance so it becomes the “biggest joined-up dementia discovery effort in the world”.
Lead academic scientist at the Cambridge institute David Rubinsztein says its location on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus gives it unparalleled access to scientists, clinical researchers and patient cohorts, and provides strong links with the region’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. “It will be a world class environment in which to conduct research aimed at transforming the lives of patients living with dementia,” he says.
The initiative mirrors a similar model developed by cancer charities.