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U.K. Alzheimer’s Charity to Fund Drug Discovery Institute

Dementia Care
Dementia care costs about $600 billion a year worldwide and may rise to $1.1 trillion by 2030, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. Photographer: Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., the country’s leading dementia research charity, will fund a new drug discovery institute to address a gap in treatments it says the pharmaceutical industry has failed to fill.

The charity will ask universities in the U.K. to apply to host the institute, which will aim to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s, it said in a statement today. Alzheimer’s Research U.K. will fund the institute with a 2 million-pound ($3.2 million) grant per year for at least five years, spokeswoman Kirsty Marais said by phone.

The pharmaceutical industry has so far failed to successfully develop remedies to slow or treat the disease itself, with current medicines only targeting symptoms. That difficulty has spurred drugmakers to collaborate with academic institutions such as the University of Oxford, which has identified Alzheimer’s as a priority for its Target Discovery Institute, inaugurated earlier this year.

“This innovative idea will bring together the best of both academic and industry expertise to drug discovery, an approach which has already shown benefits in tackling cancer,” said Alison Goate, a professor of genetics in psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. “Now is the ideal time for a similar approach to be made in neurogenerative diseases.”

At least 35.6 million people have dementia, and the numbers are projected to almost double every 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. Dementia care costs about $600 billion a year worldwide and may rise to $1.1 trillion by 2030, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.

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