ALZHEIMER’S Research UK has welcomed the publication of the UK government vision for the future of clinical research but says more funding will be needed to make it a reality.
The document, Saving Lives: the future of UK clinical research delivery, outlined the government’s approach to strengthen the country’s research expertise and learn the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alzheimer’s Research UK, the country’s leading dementia research charity, said the commitment to make research a focal point of the NHS is a step in the right direction. This strategy will help support a more joined-up approach across health services, delivering more capacity for clinical trials, improvements in dementia diagnoses, and pave the way for new treatments.
Having established the pioneering Join Dementia Research initiative, the charity is pleased to see a patient-centred approach to research.
The acknowledgement of the pivotal role digital platforms can play in clinical research is also welcome, with Alzheimer’s Research UK’s own initiative, EDoN (Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases), looking to drive breakthroughs in the early detection of neurodegenerative disease.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has hit dementia research hard at a time when it is most needed. One in four people who have died with COVID-19 in England, Wales and Scotland also had dementia, while the diagnosis rate has dropped by 43,000 since March 2020.
David Thomas, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“COVID-19 has threatened progress in dementia research, and it is more important than ever that additional funding is made available to ensure clinical staff have the capacity to continue this vital work.
“The government’s strategy rightly highlights the need to ensure clinical research priorities reflect the needs of the UK population and the healthcare system. Dementia must be a key research priority, given the significant impact it has on people and the NHS.
“In recent years, important advances have been made in understanding the disease mechanisms that cause dementia, but if the government’s vision for the future of clinical research is to become a reality, it must honour its 2019 election pledge to double dementia research funding to £160 million.
“If the ambitions of the document are ever to be realised, then we need to see adequate investment in clinical research. A doubling of dementia research funding would establish sites for high-performing clinical trials and help clinical research make the breakthroughs that are so badly needed for new life-changing treatments.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s petition calling on the government to act on its promise to double dementia research funding has so far secured more than 45,000 signatures.