Manchester scientists are to receive vital funding to help link up with North West research teams in their battle against dementia.
Alzheimer’s Research UK plans to unite researchers from the University of Manchester with fellow scientists from the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster as part of their £100million Defeat Dementia campaign.
Nearly 80 researchers at the three institutions will benefit from the £80,000 being invested over a period of two years.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Supporting grass-roots research is crucial to lay strong foundations for larger studies and we are pleased to be able to invest in people and ideas that could provide the breakthrough moments we are all desperate for.
More than 88,000 people currently suffer with Alzheimer’s in the North West and it is hoped this injection of funding can be instrumental in the fight against dementia.
Fred Walker, from Sale, Greater Manchester, witnessed the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s first hand, after watching his wife’s health slowly deteriorate.
“By the time we realised something serious was wrong and Joan had received the diagnosis it was too late to do anything – Alzheimer’s had taken its hold,” he said.
“Things just continued to spiral out of control. I retired several years beforehand, at the age of 54, so I was at home and was able to dedicate my time to looking after her.
“It gradually became a 24-hour job and I felt light-headed at times due to lack of sleep.
“Her life became more and more confusing as her memory began to fail – she’d look at a door and have no idea how to open it.
Joan sadly passed away in 2010 after a four-year struggle with the disease.
“On the day Joan died I held her in my arms and talked to her as she slipped away,” he said.
“It didn’t take me too long to realise that more money for dementia research was desperately needed and that’s why I do everything I can to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s research network has been working on tackling dementia since 1998, supporting scientists in their quest to find a cure for the condition.
The increased regional funding will help Manchester, which was one of the original founding Network members, allow research teams to pursue new ideas through equipment grants and support for small innovative projects.
Alzheimer’s Research UK will support 15 Network Centres of scientific excellence across the UK.
Teams of scientists who would not normally share each other’s work will be able to pool their expertise in projects that span the length of the country.
Manchester scientists are a prime example of collaborative research, with a brain bank providing brain samples to dementia researchers around the region.
The investment is in response to calls from the G8 Dementia summit in December which called for increased collaboration between scientists in the fight against dementia.
Prof Nigel Hooper, dementia researcher at the University of Manchester and Co-ordinator of the Manchester and North West Network Centre welcomed the new investment.
He said: “The Manchester and North West Research Network Centre is an incredibly important resource for dementia researchers in the North West, being unique in its ability to link dementia scientists not just in their home institutions but around the country.”