In partnership with the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), the British Heart Foundation has revealed plans to establish the UK’s first research Centre dedicated to finding new treatments to prevent, halt and ultimately cure vascular dementia.
The British Heart Foundation aims to invest £7.5m over the next five years so the Centre can drive forward pioneering research into the devastating condition. UK DRI will contribute £1.5m as well as enable access to its cutting-edge technology and research centres.
The Centre will be the UK’s flagship investment for vascular dementia research, uniting leading researchers from around the world under a single virtual ‘roof’.
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, affecting around 150,000 people in the UK. It is caused by poor blood flow to the brain, which starves nerve cells of oxygen and nutrients they need to live. This causes nerve cells in the affected areas of the brain to die, and symptoms include memory loss and difficulty concentrating, which worsen over time.
While it’s possible to modify risk factors of vascular dementia, such as high blood pressure, there are no treatments that can halt or reverse its progression, and there is no cure. With the number of people living with vascular dementia in the UK set to more than double by 2050, reaching 350,000, the Centre will play a pivotal role in tackling this devastating condition head on.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Vascular dementia is a cruel condition that robs people of their independence, devastating the lives of those affected and their loved ones. With around 13,000 people sadly losing their lives to the disease each year in the UK, it is vital we find new ways to prevent, halt and treat vascular dementia.
“We’re proud to be joining forces with the UK DRI to launch the BHF-UK DRI Vascular Dementia Centre, bringing together the brightest minds to drive forward pioneering research into this devastating condition. By combining our expertise and resources, the Centre will provide an international platform for world-leading collaborations that will accelerate the global search for a cure.
“We now need the support of generous supporters who can help us make our ambitions a reality, paving the way for the first effective treatments for vascular dementia.”
Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the BHF to establish the UK’s first research centre devoted solely to advancing our understanding of vascular dementia. The condition accounts for between 15-30% of all cases of dementia, but it has not received nearly the same level of research attention and is vastly underfunded, with few clinical trials ongoing.
“The UK DRI is already working at the forefront of dementia research, and this new partnership is a fantastic opportunity to consolidate and build upon our progress to uncover innovative new treatments, tools and diagnostics.
“The new collaboration represents a major step forward in our efforts to address the knowledge gap in vascular dementia. With the BHF’s wealth of experience in cardiovascular research and our expertise in dementia, I am confident that discoveries made at the new centre will dramatically improve clinical care and quality of life for the millions of people affected by vascular dementia.”
Following its launch, the BHF-UK DRI Vascular Dementia Centre will undertake an international recruitment exercise to identify a world-leading Director and four new group leaders to join three existing group leaders in the UK DRI working on vascular dementia that will work across key research themes.