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Dementia research funding

Access to dementia research extended across the UK with nearly £50m

Published on: 24 January 2024

More people with dementia will take part in research and help develop new treatments, as the Government gives £49.9m into a coordinated network of dementia trials sites across the UK.

Improving diagnosis and treatment for dementia and neurodegenerative conditions is a top priority for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The NIHR will build capacity and expertise, including at Newcastle University, into early phase dementia trials across the UK through an expanded NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration, developing a Trials Network (D-TRC-TN).

This will offer people with dementia the opportunity to take part in early phase clinical trials irrespective of where they live and widen access to a larger, more diverse population.

Enhancing trials

This network will work together with the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission, launched by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August 2022, to enhance trials conduct and increase the number and speed of clinical trials in dementia. 

John-Paul Taylor, Clinical Professor of Translational Dementia Research at Newcastle University and Deputy Chair of the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration, said: “I am thrilled to be part of this major, ground-breaking initiative which will help make the UK a world leader in the development of new and effective treatments for dementia.

“Developing trial sites across the UK, including at Newcastle University, will ensure genuine parity in access to cutting-edge clinical trials, offering real hope and progress for all individuals living with various forms of dementia.”

The NIHR funding will be split over five years and the initial phase of the programme will focus on improving processes required to conduct dementia trials in a number of sites, enhancing speed and delivery.

Over time, the number of sites will expand, and the network community will develop, ensuring people with dementia will be able to take part in early phase clinical trials across the country.

The D-TRC-TN will work closely with industry partners and the wider dementia and neurodegeneration ecosystem. The D-TRC-TN will have four key aims: 

  1. Accelerating set up and regulatory processes for dementia studies
  2. Increasing industry engagement for early phase dementia trials
  3. Embedding patient support: enhancing recruitment, support and diversity within the D-TRC-TN and the research it supports
  4. Increasing capacity and expertise for early phase dementia trials, thus enhancing the number of people with dementia in the UK who can participate

Helen Whately, Minister for Care and Mental Health, said: “A dementia diagnosis is life-changing for patients and their loved ones.

“Early diagnosis of dementia is vital so people can get support to help them live with the disease and keep independent for as long as possible.

“This funding will help increase the number of clinical trials and the range of participants. That means more and better research to identify new tests and treatments and improve our understanding of this cruel disease.”

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, added: “We are making a substantial investment in this Dementia Trials Network, so that we can accelerate opportunities for new treatments for patients across the country.

“We know the impact that this can have for people living with the disease. This ambitious Trials Network will help extend life-changing access to dementia research and make a huge contribution to our scientific understanding of this disease.”

Benefits to patients

Andrew, 69, from Brighton, is part of the Alzheimer Society’s Research Participation Steering Group and is living with early onset dementia.

He said: “It’s great news that there will be a substantial investment into clinical trials. I haven’t been able to take part in clinical trials yet, but my consultant is trying to get me onto one, and news like this gives me hope.

“I have taken part in research with universities, and I’ve got a lot out of it. I’ve enjoyed getting involved and meeting other people including those carrying out the research. It has helped to raise my own awareness of my condition and, hopefully, what has been learned will be of use for other people living with dementia.”


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