• Medical research charity LifeArc commits £30 million over five years to the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI)
  • The funding will accelerate development of new diagnostic tests, treatments, and devices from research discoveries, to identify and treat a range of neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia
  • Around 900,000 people are living with dementia in the UK and this number is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040. There is no cure for dementia, and it is a terminal condition
  • The partnership brings together the strengths of UK DRI’s research into discovery science with LifeArc’s expertise in translating promising lab discoveries into new tests and treatments for patients

LifeArc and the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) have today launched a new partnership to accelerate development of new diagnostic tests, treatments, and devices from scientific research discoveries to benefit people with dementia, which around 900,000 people in the UK are living with.

At the heart of the five-year partnership is a £30 million commitment by medical research charity LifeArc to the UK DRI to support dementia research at six UK host universities where the Institute is based.

Through fundamental discovery science, UK DRI researchers are revealing the mechanisms underpinning neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia. The funding will be used to translate these scientific discoveries into new diagnostic tests, treatments and devices. These conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, motor neurone disease, fronto-temporal dementia and Parkinson’s disease. While research has revealed much more about these diseases, there are still no effective ways to prevent them or stop them progressing.

Dr Dave Powell, LifeArc’s Chief Scientific Officer said “Great strides have been made in dementia research in recent years but there is much more that needs to be done. We now have huge opportunity to translate this knowledge into new ways to help patients. This partnership will speed up the development of life changing treatments and inspire us all to be bold and do more to help people affected by this condition.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with UK DRI. Our visions are strongly aligned, and by working together in this partnership, we hope to develop solutions for people affected by dementia much faster. The expertise we both bring means we truly complement each other on the path from discovery science to patients. We hope working together will mean we are more likely to encourage others to take promising treatments on further down the discovery pipeline.”

The partnership will provide UK DRI scientists with access to LifeArc’s therapeutic and diagnostic platforms to enable them to test potential new diagnostic tests and treatments more easily, Both organisations will collaborate to make decisions on projects which should receive the translational funding. LifeArc will continue to provide technology transfer expertise.

Professor Bart De Strooper, UK DRI Director said: “We are very proud to partner with LifeArc to give an extremely important boost to our translational work, and ultimately to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. Together we can think bigger, work more creatively and advance areas of great need with huge promise such as antibody-based therapeutics. We are excited to see the progress this brings over the coming years in our race to cures.”

Dr Adrian Ivinson, Chief Operating Officer and Director of the UK DRI said: “This LifeArc partnership is a vote of confidence not only in the UK DRI’s research but also in the field more broadly. Neurodegenerative disorders have proven difficult to treat and prevent. But our understanding of the root causes of these conditions is improving year by year such that we are ready to explore new therapeutic approaches. LifeArc is a terrific partner for the UK DRI to be working with.”


Notes to editors

Notes to editors

The parties will now work together to conclude the final agreements.

For further information, please contact:

  • Janet Morgan, Head of Corporate Affairs, LifeArc (email: janet.morgan@lifearc.org, tel +44 (0)20 7391 2810 or +44 (0) 7889 591935)

About LifeArc

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be fully developed and made available to patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.

Our success allows us to explore new approaches to stimulate and fund translation. We have our own drug discovery and diagnostics development facilities, supported by experts in technology transfer and intellectual property who also provide services to other organisations. Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. We are motivated by patient need and scientific opportunity.

LifeArc has several different funding mechanisms to invest in promising innovations to ultimately benefit patients. Our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on translating rare diseases research. Our Early Ventures investment team invests in seed and Series A stage companies and is able to scale our investments further into later funding rounds. The ventures strategy focuses on investing in novel translational science and technology with a dual goal of generating financial returns to the charity and positive impact for patients.

As experts in translation, LifeArc brings funding, technology transfer and translational science expertise, bridging the challenging gap between these lab discoveries and patients. Moving research further down the discovery pipeline so it is ready to start trials in people can make projects less risky and more attractive to future partners, such as pharmaceutical companies, who can take them forward for development and approval.

Find out more about our work on www.lifearc.org or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI)

The national UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) is the single biggest investment in dementia research in the UK. Established in 2017 by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Institute is hosted across six leading UK universities: University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King’s College London, with its central hub at UCL.

The UK DRI is working on ways to prevent, treat and care for people with all types of dementia and neurodegeneration, and ways to keep the brain healthy. The UK DRI is made up of over 750 researchers, confirming the UK as one of the best places in the world to study neuroscience. Through fundamental discovery science, UK DRI researchers are revealing the mechanisms underpinning disease and identifying new drug targets for therapies. More info: www.ukdri.ac.uk

Facts and figures about dementia

(source – Alzheimer’s Society)

  • There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
  • 209,600 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.
  • 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.
  • There are over 42,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.
  • There are an estimated 57.4 million people living with dementia around the globe and it is estimated that this number will rise to 152.8 million by 2050.
  • Two thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by people with dementia and their families.
  • Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the UK economy £13.9 billion a year.
  • The total cost of care for people with dementia in the UK is £34.7 billion. This is set to rise sharply over the next two decades, to £94.1 billion by 2040.
  • The cost of social care for people with dementia is set to nearly treble by 2040, increasing from £15.7 billion to £45.4 billion.
  • Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. As a country we spend much less on dementia than on these other conditions.