RESEARCH

Introduction

The aim of the Dementias Platform UK is to identify phenotypic markers and their change from the earliest prodromal stages of dementia and to facilitate the translation of this knowledge into the development of new therapeutic and public health interventions intended to delay or prevent the onset of the common dementias.

DPUK strategy is to develop an integrated research environment to provide the context for a new generation of highly targeted, highly informative, smaller and cheaper clinical trials designed to identify specific neuro-pathologic and neuro-protective pathways, and linking more closely cellular and molecular changes to patient selection and response. Specifically we will:

  1. Provide infrastructure to enable a new generation of highly targeted experimental medicine (EM) studies focussing on discovery studies and early phase trials.
  2. Embed multi-disciplinary experimental and translational programmes within case-rich population cohorts, pre-morbid population cohorts, and genetic-at-risk clinical cohorts to provide more accurate risk stratification and enable the triangulation of evidence.
  3. Use the DPUK infrastructure to support competitive research proposals and so leverage greater interest in, and funding for, dementias research.

This strategy is built around the UK’s ability to integrate, on an unprecedented scale, data from rigorously maintained population and clinical cohorts with routinely collected health data, and its ability to coordinate scientific effort across centres of excellence to deliver coordinated, systematic, and cost-effective research programmes. The MRC and other public funders support a wealth of population studies, spanning long-standing birth cohorts where data has been collected throughout the lifecourse, and where participants are now reaching the age where some will develop dementia, to more focussed collections of patients at the earliest stages of dementia. Through the National Health Service and other government institutions, the UK provides exceptional opportunities for linkage between cohort, health care and other electronic records.

By studying population and clinical cohorts DPUK is designed to facilitate studying dementia from the earliest molecular changes to diagnosis. By integrating data from two million well-characterised cohort participants DPUK will generate the world’s largest study group for dementias research. The diversity of cohorts available to DPUK allows the identification of mechanisms which are common across the dementias and unique to each dementia. The integration of broad and deep data available to DPUK allows dementia to be investigated in the context of the whole body, at the molecular, lifestyle, and physical and social environmental levels.

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