Experimental medicine studies
Experimental medicine happens before drug testing, it is designed to test why a drug or compound produces a particular effect and understand which part of biological mechanisms cause success or failure.
By investing in the UK's research technology, DPUK is changing experimental medicine. It is bringing together technology, expertise and volunteers to speed the development of new treatments. Experimental medicine is part of the early stage of drug discovery, with researchers conducting in-human tests. DPUK scientists are addressing the fundamental medical questions using experimental medicine in dementia research. They are investigating what promotes synaptic health and the role of vascular factors in dementia.
Developing treatments for neurodegenerative disease involves many different stages. Treating dementia means identifying undesirable changes that occur in cells and manufacturing compounds that counter these. Universities and industry each play important roles, bring expertise and resources together in the promise of more effective outcomes.
Studies in dementia are long and expensive, needing hundreds of patients and at least two years of study. DPUK is unique in creating bringing together academic research and industry to their pool their expertise.
The New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease study
The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study
© Tony Thayanandan
DPUK's experimental medicine studies
© Anna Lukala
Big data coupled with cutting-edge imaging and stem cell technology are helping researchers identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with dementia. This promises earlier diagnosis and treatment, before dementia irreversibly damages the brain. Researchers are now working to diagnose dementia early enough to disentangle how different forms of dementia start and progress.
When investigating the brain, scientists work with datasets containing vast amounts of detail. This includes the brain scans that they’ll be working with. Variations between images could indicate a particular character of the Alzheimer’s disease development. They could indicate the role of a particular chemical in the brain, or the role of a particular area in the brain.
Researchers will carry out additional PET scanning of 100 people who have already had PET scans as part of their involvement in two existing health study cohorts – EPAD and PREVENT. The extra information they collect on the 'tau' protein, when combined with existing data from these participants, will create a very rich dataset for modelling the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and subsequent dementia.
One of the big challenges facing dementia researchers is how to diagnose and track Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages – often decades before symptoms start to show. The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study will help scientists to identify the best early warning signs of this condition, and to track responses to treatments.
6 February 2020
The New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study, supported by Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), is testing new brain scans that are revealing early changes in the brain that are a signature of Alzheimer’s disease.
The New Therapeutics into Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study is looking to detect markers of the disease before symptoms show. These markers for the disease will be used to test whether experimental treatments can delay, or even prevent, the progression of the disease.