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6 areas dementia experts say research should focus on next

Rui Mauricio

In a new publication, Alzheimer’s Research UK is coming together with leading dementia experts to lay out suggested areas of emphasis for future dementia research.

Since 2013, we’ve seen real improvements in the financial support for dementia research and the number of dementia researchers. In fact, between 2008/09 and 2014/15, the number of researchers doubled to 6,141 and the number of research findings nearly doubled too, to 3,169.

Despite this, we know there’s more work to be done to speed up breakthroughs for people with dementia.

Identifying the gaps in research

Alzheimer’s Research UK brought together experts from universities, the pharmaceutical industry and charities to explore gaps in dementia research. The group identified areas that are currently under-researched, and potential ways to improve how research is conducted.

They recommended several opportunities to accelerate towards a life-changing treatment for dementia:

  1. Investigate the effects of newly identified genetic risk factors on disease processes.
  2. Improve understanding of why some brain nerve cells are more resilient than others.
  3. Bolster early drug discovery work to identify the most promising new treatment targets.
  4. Ensure the right selection of participants for clinical trials.
  5. Improve ways to measure how effectively drugs are working in people.
  6. Find ways to begin clinical trials in people decades earlier than we do today.

To work towards these goals, the experts recommended incentivising researchers to publish all findings as quickly as possible and share study data. In addition, the experts agreed more must be done to promote and facilitate dementia research between scientific disciplines.

What this means for future research

Making breakthroughs possible in research means taking brave steps to push for progress. Alzheimer’s Research UK is committed to taking these suggestions on board to ensure we are supporting research in the right way.

We’ve set out a bold ambition to commit £250m to research by 2025, including continued support of our drug discovery programmes and diagnosis research to help bridge the gaps identified in the report.

But we know that the diseases driving dementia are complex and we have to work together to bring an end to the fear harm and heartbreak of dementia. That’s why we’re calling on government to enable innovation in dementia research by increasing funding to equal just 1% of the societal cost of dementia.

We need your help to be sure our leaders know dementia research is important to you too. Please consider emailing your MP to ask them to fund more research than ever before to make breakthroughs possible.

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