Thanks for sharing


By Dr Carol Routledge | Tuesday 17 September 2019

Over the last few weeks we’ve been asking you to Share the Orange and help to spread our powerful campaign video featuring Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson.

Taking the time to watch the video will help many people to better understand the nature of diseases like Alzheimer’s, but by sharing it, the impact grows, and more and more people will get this important message.

Experiments + Sharing = Science

Sharing is an integral part of science. Publishing results and experimental methods is at the core of the whole scientific approach. This exchange of information underpins the incredible progress science has already made in tackling diseases and changing lives.

Sharing allows scientists to replicate another research team’s experiments and either confirm or challenge their results. It means that they can build on what has come before and take our understanding of the world a step further.

But this isn’t the only way that researchers work together. When specialist research teams work together to address a scientific question the combination of skills and different perspectives means that they can achieve much more than they could working separately.

And when we take sharing a step further and bring together resources and research opportunities, we find that we can power even more transformational research. When this type of collaboration happens at a global scale, the simple act of sharing becomes even more powerful.

Research crossing borders

International collaboration changes what is possible, and global initiatives have already made vital contributions to dementia research.

The International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP) spans several nations and involves universities across Europe and the U.S. The initiative has brought together genetic data for tens of thousands of people with Alzheimer’s.

IGAP has already helped scientists to identify around 30 genes linked to Alzheimer’s risk. These crucial discoveries have thrown open the doors to new avenues of research, paving the way to innovative approaches for tackling the disease.

A global community

It’s not just researchers coming together that is driving progress, people affected by dementia are also joining forces to power breakthroughs.

Every July, thousands of the world’s leading dementia researchers come together to share their latest discoveries. And each year a group of around two hundred people whose lives have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease join them on their own personal mission against the condition.

This group are from different nations, generations, cultures, and backgrounds, but there is something very important uniting them.

They come from families who could be key to developing the first life-changing Alzheimer’s treatment.

In 2016, a clinical trial of the potential Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab was stopped when it didn’t show benefits for people with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers think this was because the drug was tested too late in the disease, when too much damage had already occurred in the brain.

But these families are providing an important lifeline for this research. They are part of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN), a study involving people from families around the world with a rare genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s.

Researchers know at what point people with these genetic mutations will develop symptoms so can test drugs much earlier, before the disease really takes hold.

With the help of these participants, doctors are now investigating whether solanezumab and two similar drugs, could prevent or slow Alzheimer’s when given to people before symptoms set in.

We will see results from this study early next year. If the trials are successful in people with inherited Alzheimer’s, the drugs could one day benefit everyone with the disease.

Collaboration is key

No single country could carry out the DIAN or IGAP studies by themselves. Dementia affects people in every corner of the world and costs the global economy $1 trillion a year. It’s a global challenge that has to be met with concerted global action.

At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we have a global attitude to research. Our Dementia Consortium and Global Clinical Trials Fund are open to applicants from across the world and we’re proud to be supporting initiatives in partnership with funders from Canada and the US. We also co-chair the International Alzheimer’s disease Research Funder Consortium, which brings together 20 research funders from many different countries.

Since Alzheimer’s Research UK started funding research, we’ve supported over 230 collaborations across 28 countries. By working together, and sharing the costs and opportunities of global research, we are closing in on a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.

Find out more about our Share the Orange campaign


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About the author

Dr Carol Routledge

Carol was the Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK up to 2020. Carol moved to Alzheimer's Research UK from the Dementia Discovery Fund, where she was a Venture Partner with a key focus on identifying and developing novel disease-modifying mechanisms for the treatment of all types of dementia, sourcing opportunities from academic research groups and small companies.