Product News: Leading Dementia Charity Launches UK Stem Cell Research Centre as Part of £100m Defeat Dementia Campaign

20 Jun 2014


On the day of the first legacy event of the G8 Dementia Summit, where health leaders have gathered in London to discuss investment in dementia, Alzheimer’s Research UK pledged £100m for dementia research. The new five year campaign – Defeat Dementia - aims to grow the research field and accelerate progress towards new treatments and preventions. Responding to calls from the original Summit in December 2013 for greater investment in research and partnership working, the charity has taken the lead with a long-term commitment to tackle the growing health crisis. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s ‘Defeat Dementia’ campaign was unveiled at the Global Dementia Legacy Event, June 19th 2014.

The campaign, which represents the largest ever UK charity commitment to dementia research, will see £100m investment across initiatives covering diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Pledges as part of ‘Defeat Dementia’ include:

• The launch of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre – a £2m collaborative venture between researchers at the Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge and University College London to understand the causes of Alzheimer’s and screen potential new treatments.
• A network of Drug Discovery Institutes, worth £30m, housed in academic centers in the UK and beyond to allow promising breakthroughs to be translated towards the clinic.
• A £20m Global Clinical Development Fund dedicated to supporting phase I and II clinical trials to take potential new treatments into testing in people as soon as possible.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre will capitalize on innovative human stem cell techniques to improve understanding of Alzheimer’s and screen potential new treatments. The technique, based on the groundbreaking research for which John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012, involves taking skin cells donated by people with Alzheimer’s and turning them into working nerve cells in the laboratory.

Dr Rick Livesey from the Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge has been pioneering the use of stem cell techniques to understand Alzheimer’s. He will play an important part in running the Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre, which is being supported by the Alborada Trust.

Dr Livesey said:
“Alzheimer’s Research UK was the first to support our early work in this field and it’s amazing to see it develop into such an innovative area of research with so much promise for finding new treatments. By studying nerve cells in the laboratory made from skin cells of people with Alzheimer’s, we can not only understand the disease better but quickly screen compounds that could slow or stop it.

“The Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre allows us to join forces with clinicians and genetics experts at the Institute of Neurology at UCL, pooling expertise and resource. We want to learn about how the disease starts, how it spreads through the brain, how our genetics may affect our risk of Alzheimer’s, and how the damage could be stopped. Stem cell research has the ability to transform how we approach dementia science and we’re pleased that the UK can now lead the field in this important area of research.”

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“The G8 Dementia Summit in December 2013 called for greater investment in research, sharing of data, collaborations and cross-industry partnerships to push forward progress for people with dementia. ‘Defeat Dementia’ is our response to these calls, and affirms our long-term commitment to improving the lives of people with dementia and their families.

“As a fundraising charity we rely almost entirely on donations to fund our research but with heightened focus on dementia, the time is right to call on the UK public to help us reach our target. Today’s Global Dementia Legacy Event is focusing on how to attract global investment into dementia research and we’re proud to have set the bar high for other organizations across the world.”

Carol Franklin-Adams, whose husband Patrick has Alzheimer’s disease, said:
“We’re all familiar with large campaigns of other charities, but it’s good to see dementia research starting to gain the recognition it deserves. It’s heart-breaking to have a loved one with dementia, watching them slip away in front of your eyes. That very little can be done for someone with dementia today is the most tragic part of all, and while we can help with loving care, we remain powerless against the disease itself.

“I’m delighted to see the government and the world putting dementia investment on the agenda, but it’s up to all of us to play our part in making it a thing of the past. Alzheimer’s Research UK has the expertise, and ‘Defeat Dementia’ shows a whole new level of ambition to help make possible for dementia the kind of wondrous breakthroughs that are making such a difference for people with cancer and heart disease.”