What is Drug Discovery?
Alzheimer's Society's flagship Drug Discovery programme is an exciting new approach to developing treatments for dementia.
Our innovative approach means that new, better treatments could be available in half the time of a standard drug, bringing hope to people with dementia and their carers.
It takes about 20 years and millions of pounds to develop a new drug from scratch.
Drug Discovery focuses on 'drug repurposing', which takes drugs that are already being used to treat other conditions and tests their potential as a treatment for dementia.
Working with national dementia experts, we carried out a review of existing research that was published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery in October 2012. It identified five existing classes of drugs already in use for other conditions that show most potential for the treatment of dementia. The four most promising of these drug types are currently being tested, or soon to begin testing, in people with dementia in Phase IIb or Phase III clinical trials.
What research are we funding as part of Drug Discovery?
Alzheimer's Society are currently funding several clinical trials to test existing drugs in people with dementia:
- We are partly funding a clinical trial into a type 2 diabetes drug called liraglutide. Our earlier research has shown positive results with liraglutide in the lab so now we're testing this drug in people with early stage Alzheimer's disease. This trial into type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide is currently recruiting patients - find out more.
- We are also funding a clinical trial investigating whether certain pre-existing drugs can be used to treat small vessel disease. Small vessel disease is a leading cause of vascular dementia, so this trial is also aiming to find out whether a suitable treatment for small vessel disease may be able to prevent some forms of vascular dementia.
Studies investigating drugs for future clinical trials
- Using an innovative drug screening method to identify potential new treatments for Alzheimer's disease (University of Oxford)
- A drug called tadalafil is being tested in a small number of people to test its potential as a prevention for vascular dementia caused by small vessel disease (St George's, University of London). This project is jointly funded with the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.
- More potent diabetes treatments, similar to liraglutide, are being tested in Alzheimer's disease models to see if any of them could also be potential future treatments (Lancaster University). This project is jointly funded with the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.
- Three compounds that target unfolded proteins are being tested as potential dementia treatments in the lab (University of Cambridge). This project is jointly funded with the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.
How do I donate?
Our Ambassador, Fiona Phillips explains why the Drug Discovery programme is so important in the short video at the top of this page (duration 1:18)