Our scientists have been behind some of the biggest breakthroughs in dementia research. Their pioneering work, from vaccines to vitamins, is bringing us closer to a future without dementia. We’ve brought dementia research into the spotlight, campaigning for more funding and others to join us to defeat dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Research Trust was founded. Four people, shocked by the lack of investment in dementia research, started the charity. Their aim: to raise money for research into Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Top scientist Professor Michael Godert at the University of Cambridge was the first dementia researcher to be given a grant by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. His pioneering work uncovered how nerve cells become damaged in the brain during dementia.
Our Research Network was set up. Bringing together leading dementia scientists, our network allows researchers to share ideas and findings. We now fund 15 centres of dementia research excellence across the UK.
We committed over £1.3 million to new research projects, making us the UK’s leading dementia research charity.
We funded our 10th research project. Professor Simon Lovestone at King’s College London is working on a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Watch him talk about the latest exciting developments.
Southampton researchers published their work on the first Alzheimer’s vaccine. Backed by us, their findings are shaping our understanding of Alzheimer’s and influencing vaccine trials underway around the world. Their important research is one of the most highly-cited case reports in medicine.
We funded our 40th PhD student. Training the next generation of scientists is vital for dementia research. Watch PhD student Kirsty Muirhead talk about her research into new treatments for Alzheimer’s.
We launched Brains for Dementia Research. Jointly with Alzheimer’s Society we are funding this network of brain banks across the country. Brain tissue from people with and without dementia is vital to research that is developing new treatments for dementia.
Sir Terry Pratchett donated $1million to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and became a patron. By discussing his PCA diagnosis, a rare form of Alzheimer’s, he has helped to reduce the stigma around Alzheimer’s disease and bring it ‘out from the shadows’. He said: ‘I’d eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.’
Researchers we supported at King’s College London showed that anti-psychotic medication, commonly prescribed to people with dementia, can worsen symptoms and double the risk of death when used long term. These important findings contributed to the November 2009 government report that pledged to cut the use of anti-psychotics by two-thirds.
Alzheimer’s Research Trust scientists discovered two new genes related to Alzheimer’s: the first such breakthrough in over 15 years. Over 16,000 people took part in this huge study. The findings were reported around the world and hailed by TIME magazine as one of the most important medical discoveries of the year.
In November, our patron Sir Terry Pratchett presented an Alzheimer’s Research Trust petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, calling for an end to government underfunding of dementia research. The petition had over 20,000 signatures. Sir Terry Pratchett and Alzheimer’s Research Trust Chief Executive, Rebecca Wood, also met the Prime Minister, who admitted that dementia research had been neglected for too long and should be given a higher priority.
A University of Oxford project funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust found that daily tablets of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The clinical trial was the largest to study the effect of B vitamins on MCI and one of the first disease-modifying trials in the Alzheimer’s field to show positive results in people.
We commissioned research to look at the impact of dementia on the UK. Not only does dementia affect individuals and their families, but wider society too. The Dementia 2010 report showed that 820,000 people in the UK have dementia, a number forecast to grow. The annual cost of dementia to the economy is £23 billion more than that of cancer and heart disease combined.
The Alzheimer’s Research Trust attended all the political party conferences to raise the profile of the need for increased funding for dementia research. Since then, the coalition government has positively signaled dementia research. In the highly anticipated Comprehensive Spending Review of Autumn 2010, Chancellor George Osborne announced that health research budgets would be protected and treatment for dementia would be prioritised. This was a real coup considering the scale of cutbacks across the board.