The charity Alzheimer's Research UK has
set up a £30m trio of new drug discovery institutes at Oxford and Cambridge
universities and University College London. According to the proponents, the centers
will work with academic and industrial partners in Europe and elsewhere.
"This is the single largest Alzheimer's drug discovery effort in the world. I am confident that we
will be successful," said Simon Lovestone, scientific leader of the Oxford
institute, at the annual conference of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
Professor Lovestone also said that using new methods to understand the complex molecular processes that destroy the brain would be far more productive than the failed Alzheimer's drug
trials undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry over the past decade.
He said companies had not
come up with any product that stopped the Alzheimer's process, despite spending
$2bn on drug development. The best treatments might delay symptoms of cognitive
deterioration for six to eight months, but do nothing for the underlying
Lovestone added that the
initiative would use personalised or 'precision' medicine to find drugs
tailored to individual patients in early stages of the disease, in contrast to
the industry's recent trials.