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“Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK. Everyone will know someone close that has been affected one way or another, and it is something that touches many.” These are the words of Yasmine Kumordzi, ‘Defying Dementia Student Society’ President.
This society was set-up to support the ‘Defying Dementia’ project run by Professor David Allsop and his team of neuroscientists at Lancaster University, who years ago developed a drug which may revolutionise treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It does this by blocking the formation of ‘senile plaques’ which have been located in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers, and stopping the toxic effect that these plaques have on brain cells.
However, in order to develop a drug to the point that it can be released to the general public it must go through human clinical trials. A Blackpool-based company, “MAC Clinical Research”, agreed to take the drug into human clinical trials once it had passed the regulatory tests. To be able to speed up this process, a major fundraising campaign was launched to get the drug to this point.
Examples of what the money raised would go to include tests which see if the compound has any negative side effects on the body’s major organ systems (£10,000), investigating the optimum route of administration (£14,000) and even the costs of laboratory consumables. The money raised so far as of the time this article was written is £52,000 of the total £165,000 needed.
Nicole Finn, Fundraising Officer for the DDSS had this to say on why the project is important to her:
“At the moment there is no cure for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and so it is important to keep on working to finding a cure, and develop better drugs. With the life expectancy of the general public getting longer and longer, more people are expected to suffer from dementia in the future. It’s for this reason that I believe it is critical that more research is done to find a cure.”
Ms Kumordzi added, “The fact that the research of possible drugs is happening in Lancaster University is something very exciting, and being able to be involved however small is an opportunity not to be missed.”
It was for these reasons, shared amongst the student community that the “Defying Dementia Student Society” was set-up this year, but the group itself have been fundraising since November 2014 when they operated as “Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s”. So far over the past year, the society have hosted two events; a bake sale as well as a Halloween face painting event which has raised over £200. Events such as a charity ball and a bar crawl are on the cards for the future.
One special attendee at the bake sale was David Allsop, the Professor of Neuroscience at Lancaster University and the Defying Dementia project leader. Other team members of the project such as Dr Neil Dawson, Prof Chris Holscher and Prof Edward Parkin have taken time out of their research and day jobs to give brief lectures to the student society on their specific areas of research as well as covering Professor Allsop’s work too.
On Tuesday Week 15 the society is holding a cake stall in Furness College between 10am and 4pm to raise funds for Defying Dementia but also for Alzheimers and Parkinsons Trust NW. On Friday Week 15 a Valentine’s Day stall will be established from 10am in Alexandra Square, where everything needed for the special day will be on hand to buy (apart from a partner) with flowers, cards, chocolates, cakes and gift wrapping all available.
To donate text the code DEFY50, space, amount to date to 70070 up to £10 (e.g. DEFY50 £10). Online on the JustGiving page ‘https://www.justgiving.com/defyingdementia’. To donate via credit by phone, simply call ‘01524 592376’ and quote “Defying Dementia”.