The MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) have announced a new partnership with Dementias Platform UK (DPUK). The Platform is a radical new approach to dementias research, which will provide a translation pipeline from basic discovery through to early phase trials. It will combine more than 20 clinical and population cohorts representing 2M participants.
This new joint venture between BSU and DPUK will, over the next 3 years, develop cutting-edge statistical methods addressing the problem of predicting who is at greatest risk of dementia and why. These methods will be applied to DPUK cohort data to inform and guide the DPUK experimental medicine programme.
Professor John Gallacher DPUK Director said “The MRC Biostatistics Unit brings unique and world-class expertise to DPUK, allowing us to take the rich legacy of data from the UK’s population studies, and use it to accelerate the development of new treatments for dementia.”
The expertise brought by BSU takes the DPUK precision medicine agenda forward in a number of ways. By identifying criteria for increased risk of different types of dementia BSU enables studies that look at early changes and creates an evidence base-for developing medicines to either delay onset or slow the progress of dementia. This will be done by identifying and evaluating biomarkers for dementia and how biomarkers combine to increase risk. Combining information from complex biomarkers such as genetics and brain images is difficult, but the BSU is one of the few centres in the world that can do this in the context of large population studies.
BSU Director Professor Sylvia Richardson said: “We are thrilled to be directly involved in this far reaching project which is tackling a most challenging issue facing ageing populations”.
The Cambridge Institute of Public Health is involved in three UKDP work packages including this one: Biostatistical Methods and Support with MRC BiostatisticsUnit (BSU), Ethical Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) with Public Health Genomics Foundation and Brain donation procedures in collaboration with Brains for Dementia Research (BDR) as well as its existing cohort studies: CFAS, CamCAN and EPIC Norfolk.