Explaining DPUK's research
Research offers hope, because if we can understand the diseases that cause dementia, we'll be able to develop new ways of treating it – or even to stop it before it starts.
Our focus at DPUK is on the human side of dementia research: we aim to bridge the gap between early-stage scientific discoveries in laboratories and successful trials of new treatments in patients. There are three main strands of our work:
The DPUK Data Portal
Our Data Portal is the most in-depth resource globally for 'longitudinal data' (that is, information collected in research projects known as 'cohort studies' that follow participants over an extended period of time). The Data Portal gives researchers access to millions of health records from dozens of these cohort studies in a single, secure repository. Analysis of this data continuously offers new insights into dementia – including the earliest signs of disease. For example, DPUK researchers are looking into the links between traumatic experiences in childhood and how the brain functions in later life.
The Data Portal is aligned with similar data repositories in other countries and, in partnership with an organisation called Health Data Research UK, will link NHS patient electronic health records to DPUK data, providing a major open-science resource for the research community.
Find out more about the Data Portal in our podcast episode with senior DPUK scientist Dr Sarah Bauermeister:
Trials Delivery Framework
Our Trials Delivery Framework is creating an 'engine' for testing new treatments for dementia. Working with the NIHR's Join Dementia Research initiative and the Scottish Brain Health Register, this nationwide network powers recruitment of public participants into dementia research and matches the right volunteers to the right studies and trials. This ensures we can understand which new treatments and interventions work, and which don't – quickly and robustly.
Experimental Medicine Incubator
Our Experimental Medicine Incubator supports a range of innovative scientific studies investigating the root causes and underlying mechanisms of dementia in humans: how we lose synapses (the 'junctions' between brain cells), what triggers inflammation in the brain, and how we can prevent dementia caused by vascular (blood vessel) disease. The idea is that these projects will advance our understanding of dementia and make the pursuit of potential new treatments quicker and less risky for pharmaceutical companies.
The Incubator operates in association with the UK Dementia Research Institute and Alzheimer's Research UK.
Find out more about the Experimental Medicine Incubator in our podcast episode with its lead researcher, Professor James Rowe:
Our work with others
DPUK is one of several UK initiatives which contribute to the development of new treatments for dementia, and our academic-industry partnerships mean our researchers are able to freely share knowledge with scientists working for pharmaceutical companies.
We work with a range of research organisations that operate at different stages of the drug development pipeline – from looking at the fundamental biology of the disease through to the identification of ways to modify disease progression, and the trialling of new treatments in people. DPUK contributes at all of these stages.
Take a look at the high-quality dementia research happening at these organisations:
Alzheimer's Research UK
Alzheimer's Research UK powers world-class studies seeking to beat dementia sooner. Its pioneering work focuses on prevention, treatment and cure.
BRACE is a registered charity that funds research into Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Its role is to help medical science understand the causes of dementia, find ways of diagnosing it earlier and more accurately, and develop more effective treatments.
Brain Research Trust
Brain Research Trust is the umbrella charity for research into conditions of the brain and nervous system. It was established in 1971 to promote and support research into the causes, treatment, prevention and cure of neurological diseases. Because dementia is caused by diseases of the brain, part of Brain Research Trust's work is focused on dementia.
UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI)
DPUK works closely with UK DRI, whose focus is also on the importance of early-stage science to improve our understanding of dementia. UK DRI has over 600 researchers in seven centres across the UK who continuously produce ground-breaking science.
Mental Health Foundation
Mental Health Foundation is working for an end to mental ill health and the inequalities among people experiencing mental distress, or living with learning disabilities or reduced mental capacity. The organisation develops and runs research and delivery programmes across the UK, providing evidence and expertise to help discover what works and how to intervene earlier.
RICE (Research Institute for the Care of Older People)
RICE carries out research covering a wide variety of areas, intended to advance the knowledge and treatment of the more serious conditions affecting older people – in particular Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia – and to improve their quality of life.