£50m dementia bid launched

A major bid to find interventions that can prevent the onset of dementia has been launched at Edinburgh.

The £50 million project - led by the University - brings together scientists from across Europe.

They will collaborate to identify people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants will be invited to take part in drug trials and to adopt lifestyle changes that could slow onset of the condition.

Preventative medicine

The researchers’ goal is to improve understanding and management of Alzheimer’s disease in people with very early symptoms or none.

Previous attempts to bring new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease to the market have proved unsuccessful despite high levels of investment.

Research is now focusing on prevention in the hope that early intervention can be a more effective approach to managing the condition.

Alzheimer's dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder. Early warning signs of the condition can be identified for up to twenty years before a person develops symptoms.

This latest initiative will establish a European-wide register of 24,000 people deemed at high risk of developing dementia.

Scientists hope that by identifying biomarkers - molecules in tissue or blood that indicate disease - they will detect people with early stage dementia even if they have no noticeable symptoms.

Patients at highest risk will be invited to join trials of preventative medicines.

This partnership confirms the UK’s position at the heart of the fight against dementia.

Professor Craig RitchieProfessor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University

European partnership

The project, named the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia Initiative (EPAD), involves 35 partners from the academic and private sectors and will initially run for five years.

In the UK, it also involves partners from the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Cardiff and Leicester.

EPAD is mainly sponsored by the European Commission and the European pharmaceutical industry under the auspices of the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking.