Manchester scientists benefit from increased funding in dementia research

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03 Sep 2014

Alzheimer’s Research UK has increased funding to its Manchester and North West Research Network Centre, which supports pioneering dementia researchers across the region.

UK dementia research charity has announced increased investment in a Network across the UK, bringing scientists together to tackle this devastating condition. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK will support 15 Network Centres of scientific excellence across the UK, including a centre in Manchester and North West, uniting researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster. Nearly 80 researchers at the three institutions will receive a much-needed boost in investment, benefiting from £80,000 over two years. The investment is part of the charity’s £100m Defeat Dementia fundraising campaign, announced in June by the Prime Minister.
With calls from the G8 Dementia Summit in December for increased collaboration in dementia research, the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network brings together scientists from a variety of disciplines, both within their own institution, in neighbouring centres of academic excellence and throughout the UK. Teams of scientists who would not normally encounter each other are able to pool their expertise in projects that span the length of the country. 
Over 88,000 people in the North West have dementia and the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network has been building since 1998 with the aim to tackle this problem, supporting scientists to ultimately find a cure for the condition. Manchester was one of the original founding Network members and this increased regional funding will allow the teams in the region to pursue new ideas through equipment grants and support for small innovative projects. Scientists in Manchester are a prime example of collaborative research, with a brain bank providing brain samples to dementia researchers around the region.
Besides providing a focal point for researchers, the Manchester and North West Network Centre will help the local community understand the progress being made in dementia research. Every year, the Centre hosts a free public meeting, an informal event for the public to hear about the latest research findings. These events foster dialogue between researchers and those touched by the condition, providing scientists with new insights into dementia and inspiring new approaches to research.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We will not find a cure for dementia by working in isolation. Investment in our Research Network is essential to bring scientists together to share ideas and resources. Supporting grass-roots research is crucial to lay strong foundations for larger studies and we are pleased to be able to invest in people and ideas that could provide the breakthrough moments we are all desperate for.
“Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the way in terms of investment in research, but it is also crucial that we foster collaborations – locally, nationally and internationally. The Research Network will unite researchers across the UK in tackling dementia from different angles, in order to meet our aim to defeat dementia sooner.”
Prof Nigel Hooper, dementia researcher at The University of Manchester and Co-ordinator of the Manchester and North West Network Centre, said: “The Manchester and North West Research Network Centre is an incredibly important resource for dementia researchers in the North West, being unique in its ability to link dementia scientists not just in their home institutions but around the country. 
"Researchers in the North West are focussing on a wide range of projects; from investigating the genetics behind frontotemporal dementia to understanding how toxic proteins build up in Alzheimer’s disease and developing novel drugs to treat the disease. The Network enables researchers with a wealth of different expertise to come together, to learn from each other’s experiences and successes, innovating new projects. The great benefit of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network is that it allows scientists to place their findings in the wider context of dementia research, and draw on other people’s expertise to make the journey from interesting idea to potential patient benefit that much easier.”
Fred Walker, from Sale, Greater Manchester, lost his wife, Joan, to Alzheimer’s in 2010 after a four-year struggle with the disease. He said: “By the time we realised something serious was wrong and Joan had received the diagnosis it was too late to do anything – Alzheimer’s had taken its hold. Things just continued to spiral out of control. I retired several years beforehand, at the age of 54, so I was at home and was able to dedicate my time to looking after her. It gradually became a 24-hour job and I felt light-headed at times due to lack of sleep. Her life became more and more confusing as her memory began to fail – she’d look at a door and have no idea how to open it. On the day Joan died I held her in my arms and talked to her as she slipped away. It didn’t take me too long to realise that more money for dementia research was desperately needed and that’s why I do everything I can to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I’m delighted to hear more funding is being made available for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s research experts here in the North West.”

Notes for editors

For further information, or to speak with a scientist, a case study or spokesperson from Alzheimer’s Research UK, please contact the Alzheimer’s Research UK press office on 0300 111 5 666, mobile 07500803936 or email  
• Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia. To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting or calling 0300 111 5555. We are currently supporting dementia research projects worth over £22 million in leading Universities across the UK.
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