With a mission to find new ways to diagnose and treat Dementia, Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, have actioned a £250m initiative. Building six UK centres to take the project forward, Cardiff University has been named as one of the premises, receiving a £13m investment as part of the national initiative.
Wanting to mirror the great findings that cancer research has encouraged for cancer, this money will go towards creating new treatment methods and streamlining the diagnosis process, said to be the biggest investment Wales has ever received for scientific study into the disease.
Prof Bart De Strooper, director of the UK DRI, said centres were chosen on the basis of “innovative, excellent science”.
Thrilled to be chosen, Cardiff University aim to employ 60 researchers by 2022, with a further £17m investment being hinted at.
Prof Williams said:
“We’ve identified 30 genes in the last seven years that increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“What’s exciting about this centre is that we can now take that information forward, find out the disease mechanisms and produce treatments and preventative therapies for the future.”
Taking place at the University’s Hadyn Ellis building, researchers will focus on ways to spot signs of dementia during its early stages.
Prof Valentina Escott-Price, a data analyst at Cardiff University, said:
“I think for those people with dementia, we can give hope.
“I think our research will help to design drugs. To cure, or to fix the problem, there’s a long way to go, but just to modify, to slow down the progression, that we could help with”.
Drawing on the experiences of those living with the disease, the university will work with people like Karen Kitch from Rhondda Cynon Taff. Karen was diagnosed with onset dementia back in 2014. Fully supportive of such research schemes, she says:
“There’s nothing he [the doctor] could tell me. He couldn’t tell me how long before I was into the final part of my journey, how it was going to be through the process because he told me it was an individual disease.
“I had to stop work. I was on quite a good wage, so that disappeared overnight.
“Financially we nearly lost the house because we couldn’t keep up with all of the payments because all of the money had gone and it took about six months for the benefits to be sorted out.
“I’ve done a degree in literature, I don’t read any more because I start reading and I read so far and I put it down and I come back the next day and I’ve forgotten what I’ve read.
“Research is fantastic, it’s really needed. I don’t think it will be for my time but it will be for my children, or for my grandchildren… and if by that time they can find a cure, that would make me happy.”