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Research is changing the future for people with dementia

Over the past century, mankind has achieved incredible feats of science, engineering and medicine.

We have mapped the human genome, designed drugs to successfully control HIV, carried out the first human heart transplant and doubled cancer survival rates.

The same tools, ingenuity and dedication are now building our understanding of dementia and driving progress towards breakthroughs that will change millions of lives for the better.

Watch as Dame Julie Walters highlights the progress research is making towards a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.

Dame Julie Walters

"My grandmother had vascular dementia and she lived with us when we were kids. We didn’t really understand her symptoms, but we all loved her to bits.

"Research offers hope. Hope that one day soon families like mine won’t have to witness the devastating effects of dementia. We will be able to take action to keep people connected to their families and themselves for longer.

"There is still work to do, but it’s incredibly exciting to see research taking strides towards life-changing breakthroughs."

Dame Julie Walters

Get the latest research news straight to your inbox. Find out how researchers in the UK and around the world are changing the future for people living with dementia.

Every day pioneering dementia researchers make new discoveries.

They work tirelessly to expand our expertise and share skills and knowledge with scientists far and wide, so that no stone is left unturned.

Every result adds to this global endeavour,
and we won't stop until we find the answers we are looking for.

But the progress that really matters is that which makes a difference to people’s lives.

While dementia research has been underfunded and overlooked for far too long, hard-won advances from the lab have still led to important, tangible progress that has benefited people’s lives. Now, researchers are working to build on those advances to transform the way people with dementia are treated in the future.

PILLS

The first wave of dementia treatments made it to patients in the late 90s. Pioneering dementia researchers paved the way by unlocking crucial understanding of the biology of Alzheimer’s disease. They have been prescribed to millions of people over the last 20 years.

While these drugs slow symptoms and don’t stop damage, we are now on the cusp of new treatments that can tackle underlying disease processes.

DNA

Scientists first cracked the human genome in 1999. That analysis cost one billion dollars and took 15 years. Today we can sequence a person’s genome for less than $1,000 and in just a few weeks.

Today we can test for rare, inherited forms of dementia, reliably and easily. And thanks to the incredible pace of progress, researchers have identified around 30 genes that are linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, opening up exciting new avenues for research into new treatments.

BRAIN

We now understand that there are things we can all do to support a healthy brain. Research has highlighted the potential for dementia risk reduction with studies suggesting that up to 40% of dementia cases could be prevented if we could eliminate lifestyle and health factors linked to increased risk.

Public health campaigns have been hugely successful in reducing rates of heart disease. We can do the same for dementia.

TEST TUBES

Markers in blood and spinal fluid can now reveal processes underway in the brain. Spinal fluid tests are already used to support a dementia diagnosis in some people. These techniques are improving all the time.

Recent advances in blood testing indicate that we are at the start of a revolution in dementia diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is a key part of the global effort to end the fear harm and heartbreak of dementia.

Since we funded our first research project in 1998, our researchers have made incredible progress.

Thanks to you, our researchers have made over 2,200 discoveries so far, working with scientists across 60 countries.

If you want to know more about how researchers in the UK and around the world are changing the future for people living with dementia register to our monthly e-newsletter.