Cardiff University to lead £16m dementia study

Hands of elderly person
Image caption About 45,000 people in Wales have a dementia related condition

Scientists at Cardiff University are to lead a £16m project to detect, treat and prevent dementia.

They will head up the UK Dementias Research Platform (UKDP), a public-private partnership to speed up research into the condition.

The funding is being announced at an international summit about the illness in London on Thursday.

About 45,000 people suffer from the condition in Wales and about 800,000 in the UK.

The UKDP brings together industry expertise and investigating teams from eight UK universities.

Their work will create one of the world's largest ever study groups for research into dementia, with more than two million people said to be taking part.

The research will investigate the causes of dementia across a range of different neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease.

Dr John Gallacher, from Cardiff University's School of Medicine and director of UKDP, said: "We now know that neurodegeneration can be linked to changes taking place in parts of the body seemingly unrelated to the brain and many years before dementia is diagnosed.

"For example, inflammation or infection in a completely different organ may be related to the development of dementia or to accelerating the onset in people with the disease.

"So it's imperative that we look at the different stages of disease development: people who are yet to develop dementia, those who are known to be at risk of developing it, and those who are already in the early stages of the disease.


"By looking at the links between development of the disease and other factors - such as diet or illness - we hope to unearth targets for new drugs or new uses for existing drugs."

Hosting the London dementia summit, Prime Minister David Cameron will call for a "big, bold global push" on dementia.

Experts and health officials from other G7 countries are expected to attend.

Thursday's event in London comes six months after the UK hosted a summit where leading nations committed to developing a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025.

The UK government's Science Minister David Willetts said: "This new £16m UK Dementia Platform will create the world's largest ever study group for research into dementia, ensuring that data is freely available to support the work of international scientists in this very important area."

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