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UK researchers unite to defeat dementia

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Dementias Platform UK is a brand new collaborative project which has been launched to help defeat dementia. The Medical Research Council, alongside several universities, has placed itself at the forefront of research into the prevention and treatment of dementia.

The £50 million investment will bring together over 22 existing research studies to create the largest ever group of people to take part in dementia research studies worldwide.

When the individual projects are combined, the Dementias Platform UK will contain information on over 2 million people over the age of 50 who can be followed over time, enabling researchers to conduct large, high-impact studies into cognitive ageing and dementia.

The studies involved in the Dementias Platform collect a large amount of data about their participants, such as blood and DNA samples, brain scans, memory performance and detailed information about diet and lifestyle. The Dementias Platform will bring all of that information together in a central database that researchers can access, allowing far more research studies to be carried out.

The goals of the Dementias Platform UK are ambitious and broad. They are to:

  • Find ways to identify people early in the disease course before symptoms appear

  • Understand how genetic and lifestyle factors interact to cause dementia, hoping to find ways for people to reduce their risk

  • Increase our understanding of the different causes of dementia and find ways to diagnose the different types better

  • Develop treatments to help people cope with the symptoms of dementia

  • Develop treatments or interventions that can interfere with the course of the disease, hoping to stop the progression before symptoms ever appear

The DPUK will take a couple of years to get up to full speed, and doesn’t promise to deliver new treatments overnight. However, it is the approach involving ‘big science’, innovation and collaboration that promises new progress and keeps the UK at the forefront of global dementia research.

Alzheimer’s Society and other charities can play an important role in making the platform a success. Some of our funded research, such as the PREVENT study is already part of the Dementias Platform, and in future years we shall be considering how to add further research to this tremendous resource.

Moving forward, Alzheimer’s Society can have a greater role in promoting and educating the public and people affected by dementia about the DPUK.

Overnight, 2 million people became part of the world’s largest ever experiment to understand how cognition changes as we age. Now we want to make sure that the research it supports is carried out to the maximum benefit of people affected by dementia. 

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