In News & Culture Nublue tours the Defying Dementia lab Posted by Stefan This week we headed over to Lancaster University to meet with the team at Defying Dementia, our chosen charity this year. They’re hard at work developing a new drug with the potential to halt the progress of Alzheimer’s disease – but they desperately need to raise funds to move their drug forwards to clinical trials. The drug they’re developing doesn’t just have applications for Alzheimer’s disease either. With more time and more funding, it could also pave the way for new treatments for a range of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. With more awareness and more funding, the team hopes to speed up the process of getting their drug into clinical use – and then refine it over time to become even more effective at stopping Alzheimer’s disease in its early stage. About dementia Dementia is the general term given to a number of neurodegenerative diseases, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease. As anyone affected by dementia will know, either directly or with loved ones, the condition can cause confusion, loss of memory, changes in personality and even loss of life – which is why we want to support Defying Dementia’s vital work in developing their new drug, which could halt conditions like Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. 850,000 people are currently thought to be living with dementia in the UK, according to a major study commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society through King’s College London and the London School of Economics. That number is forecast to reach 1 million by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051. Dementia currently costs the UK £26 billion each year. £4.3 billion of this is covered by the NHS, while social care for people living with dementia totals £10.3 billion each year. But what can’t be put into numbers is the cost of dementia to human life and happiness – and that’s something the team at Defying Dementia are working hard to address. About Defying Dementia The biomedical researchers at Defying Dementia already have some impressive firsts under their belt. Team leader Professor David Allsop was the first to isolate the ‘senile’ amyloid plaques which build up between nerve cells in the brain and define Alzheimer’s disease – while the team itself are the first to take a crowdfunded approach to their development work via JustGiving.com, in order to raise money and move their drug toward clinical trials. The team has also been hard at work on the fundraising front, with a number of local events coming up to raise awareness for their vital work – as well as increasing coverage through press and social media. They’ve recently seen a major step forward in moving their treatment towards clinical trials, but there’s still a huge amount of work to do before their drug, R1-OR2-TAT, could be considered and licensed for prescribed use by people with early-stage Alzheimer’s. This new drug has the potential to become a groundbreaking new tool in the fight against neurodegenerative disease – and, it’s hoped, a big step towards preventing it altogether. Touring the Defying Dementia lab After meeting up with Professor Allsop, Dr Penny Foulds, Laura Slater and Helen Sheldon to discuss Nublue’s fundraising plans for Defying Dementia (stay tuned for more details!) we had the opportunity to tour the lab where the team’s potentially groundbreaking drug is being developed and perfected. Talking us through the science team’s processes of sample-taking, sonic agitation, distillation and application, Dr Penny led our tour of the lab’s full range of facilities ranging from deep-freeze storage to high-heat sterilisation – and explained the team’s frankly daunting array of equipment in laymen’s terms. It was fascinating to see just how much painstaking precision and care goes into the development of a single medical drug – and extremely reassuring that there are teams of professionals like Defying Dementia, all over the world, working hard to develop treatments so that we can all enjoy a better quality of life. Defying Dementia needs your help The scientists at Lancaster University have made incredible progress over the past few years, and revealed to us that their drug is now going ahead to the next stage of development and safety trials. Funding for their work is now stepping up into the thousands as more and more people pledge their support. There’s lots of work to do though, and every new donation really will help to speed the drug towards trials and, it’s hoped, mass production. It’s a sad truth that developing safe, effective medical treatments never comes cheap. But the tens of thousands needed by the medical team at Defying Dementia pales beside the tens of billions needed to help people living with dementia in the UK alone – not to mention the inestimable toll of the condition on people’s lives and loved ones. Defying Dementia are working hard to develop their new drug, and people all over the UK are donating to make it happen. With more people getting behind this great cause, Defying Dementia hope to move ever faster towards completing their drug to prevent early-stage Alzheimer’s – and getting it out to the world. If you’d like to find out more about Defying Dementia, just click here for their website. You can follow them here on Twitter and Facebook, and help to fund their work right here on their JustGiving page. Nublue is a web design, development and hosting company that’s passionate about supporting great causes. Click here for more about our charity and fundraising work.