University College London (UCL) has been selected to be the hub of a new £250m UK Dementia Research Institute.

The Institute (UKDRI) was formed after a joint investment by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society. The institute will further research efforts to diagnose, treat, care for and even prevent dementia – an umbrella term for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Huntingdon’s and vascular dementia.

Professor Bart De Strooper is the current leader at the Laboratory for the Research of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Leuven has been appointed as Director for the brand new Institute. When talking about the newly formed Institute, he said: Right now, our understanding of these diseases is not dissimilar to what we knew or thought we knew, about cancer several decades ago. What we need is a paradigm shift in the way we think about dementias.

“Just as we realised that a whole range of factors is responsible for how cancers occur and progress in an individual, we now need to take a more holistic view of dementia and accept that a wide range of approaches may be needed in order to be successful. We have a huge amount of discovery science to do – and I want to see real surprises.”

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As it stands, there are no treatments available that can stop or even slow the effects of dementia, even though recent advances in technology have increased our knowledge and understanding of the disease’s origins.

The UKDRI will operate across a number of locations around the UK, which are to be announced over the next couple of months. Dementia has recently become the leading cause of death in England and Wales, replacing coronary heart disease.

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