For the public

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance is a network of Drug Discovery Institutes embedded within the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and University College London.

Each Institute will be made up of dedicated teams of drug discovery experts who will work with researchers across the UK and beyond, to fast-track promising academic science into treatments for people with dementia as quickly as possible.

Why is drug discovery for dementia so important?

There have been no new treatments licensed for Alzheimer’s since 2002 and many people with other causes of dementia have no specific treatments available to them. Alzheimer’s Research UK is determined to change this.

We fund pioneering research that is helping to tackle many fundamental questions about Alzheimer’s and other dementias. While there are still unanswered questions about the biology of the diseases that cause dementia, we have a stronger knowledge base than ever before. It is vital that we capitalise on these innovative ideas and discoveries and translate them quickly into potential new treatments for people with dementia.

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The Drug Discovery Alliance will do just that – ensuring that breakthroughs by scientists go straight into the hands of drug discovery experts. Research and development into new drugs has historically been supported by the pharmaceutical industry but we believe that academic research offers innovation, creativity, fresh ideas and flexibility that has the power to re-ignite the search for new dementia treatments. Our Drug Discovery Institutes will ensure that researchers can explore promising new areas of biology and the best ideas are fed straight into the drug discovery pipeline.

What will the Drug Discovery Institutes do?

The Drug Discovery Institutes will support research through the critical early phases of drug discovery. The teams leading each Institute will look for key proteins, molecules or biological processes discovered by academic researchers in the host university and beyond. The expert drug discovery teams will test these targets to confirm they play an important role in the disease (target validation) and start to search for, or develop, compounds that could act on them to slow or stop the disease. These compounds, called ‘leads’, could be the new dementia drugs of tomorrow.

Once a lead shows beneficial effects in cell and animal models of the disease in the lab, there is a much higher chance it will work in people. If a lead makes it through these critical phases, the Drug Discovery Institutes will be looking to partner with other organisations to develop them further for testing in people.

46 million people across the globe are living with dementia and the impact is felt throughout society, but through research we will find answers to our greatest medical challenge. You can read more about how Alzheimer’s Research UK is defeating dementia, by visiting our website www.alzheimersresearchuk.org.

We’ve also put together a presentation to help explain the drug discovery process, which you can find here.

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