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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Centre aims for Alzheimer's test
Blood test
Experts hope a simple blood test can be developed
Developing a blood test which could track the progress of Alzheimer's disease is just one aim of a new centre for neurodegenerative disease research.

The Medical Research Council is putting in 2.5m of funding into the centre.

Lab-based scientists and clinicians working directly with patients will be based at the centre at King's College London.

It is hoped the centre will smooth the way for treatments to progress from "bench to bedside".

Finding new treatments and diagnostic procedures for these devastating conditions is a priority area for research
Professor Colin Blakemore, MRC

Over half a million people have Alzheimer's disease in the UK and this number is likely to rise with the increase in the elderly population.

Up to 5,000 people in the UK are estimated to have MND.

'Ideas exchange'

The MRC Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases will be home to around 20 scientists and about 100 staff altogether.

It will cover disciplines including neuro-imaging, neuro-psychology, epidemiological research and genetics, all of which could offer ways of improving understanding of the conditions and assessing how effective new drugs are.

Professor Brian Anderton, director of the centre, said: "We want to discover more about the biology of the diseases.

"That way, we hope we will come up with new potential drug targets."

He added: "We are also looking to develop a simple blood test to monitor the progress of Alzheimer's and if drugs are benefiting patients.

"We want to find something we can measure in the blood so we can track the progress of this disease."

"The centre will bring together clinicians and basic scientists and foster a research environment in which they will work together and exchange ideas.

"This 'bedside-to-bench and bench-to-bedside' approach offers the best prospects for discovering new treatments for these progressive degenerative conditions and will also provide excellent training opportunities for both scientists and clinicians."

Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the MRC, said: "The establishment of this centre provides substantial investment, support and co-ordination for research into Alzheimer's, motor neuron diseases and other forms of neurodegeneration.

"Finding new treatments and diagnostic procedures for these devastating conditions is a priority area for research."

In a joint statement, Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society and Rebecca Wood of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "By funding the centre, the MRC has recognised the importance of research into Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

"The centre represents a significant new investment in neurodegenerative research and will hopefully lead to more treatments for the thousands of people in the UK who have dementia."




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