MICA: Dementias Platform UK 2 – Integrated Dementia Experimental Medicine

Study Code / Acronym
Award Number
Research Grant
Status / Stage
1 January 2021 -
1 December 2025
Duration (calculated)
04 years 11 months
Funding Amount
Funder/Grant study page
Contracted Centre
University of Oxford
Principal Investigator
John Gallacher
PI Contact
WHO Catergories
Methodologies and approaches for risk reduction research
Tools and methodologies for interventions
Disease Type
Dementia (Unspecified)

CPEC Review Info
Reference ID632
ResearcherReside Team


Study Code / AcronymMICA (DPUK2)
Award NumberMR/T033371/1
Status / StageActive
Start Date20210101
End Date20251201
Duration (calculated) 04 years 11 months
Funder/Grant study pageMRC
Contracted CentreUniversity of Oxford
Funding Amount£7,670,824.00

Plain English Summary

DPUK is a public-private partnership to accelerate the development of new treatments for dementia. Since inception (2014) DPUK has increased the UK capacity for dementia research through infrastructure development and strategic data collection, leveraging a further 74.4m for dementia research.

The second phase of DPUK (DPUK2) focuses on developing UK capacity for dementia experimental medicine. A major challenge in developing new treatments is understanding the mechanisms through which a drug might operate. This involves precision studies where individuals of known vulnerability to specific causes of dementia are recruited to studies of cause-specific mechanistic pathways. These studies are very difficult to do as they require detailed assessment of volunteers before the study begins and standardising all the procedures in centres across the UK. These studies are also high risk in that there is no guarantee of success.

DPUK2 addresses these issues head-on at two levels. First it uses the UK’s rich legacy in population cohort studies to identify suitable volunteers by using and enhancing existing cohort data. Second it creates a pre-competitive environment that brings together industry, academic and third-sector entities into partnership. This not only shares the costs and risks of experimental medicine (EM) studies, it also shares the benefits amongst a wider spread of stakeholders, each able to exploit the findings. DPUK2 does this through 3 inter-dependent work-streams.

1. The Data Portal (DP): The DP is a world leading end-to-end dementia focused data management solution. It enables large and complex datasets to be accessed remotely from around the globe without compromising data security. The DP is being developed in partnership with Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) so that we can maximise the data available to dementia research. The DP is used to manage all the data and information systems necessary for conducting precision studies. It brings large and complex datasets together in order to test new ideas; it manages personal information securely to enable recruitment to precision studies; it manages many types of data so that genetics, brain imaging, cognitive performance; and questionnaire data can all be analysed together.

2. The Trials Delivery Framework (TDF): The TDF is the vehicle that enables the DPUK2 experimental medicine programme to be efficient. The TDF organises our Clinical Studies Register (CSR) through which cohort members can volunteer for experimental medicine studies. The CSR allows us to contact members to enrich their data in terms of background information, cognitive testing, and where necessary genetics. As part of the CSR, and in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, we have a PPI programme to understand what best practice is in terms if recruitment to experimental medicine studies. The TDF also enables us to identify centres of excellence across the UK for conducting experimental studies rigorously. This not only assures data quality, but also means that volunteers do not have to travel too far to participate.

3. The EM Incubator: The incubator is where our partners meet to plan and execute the experimental medicine programme. It has three themes; the first is Vascular Health. This is important because so many factors that affect the heart also affect the brain. If any area is likely to have drugs that already exist and could be re-purposed for dementia, this is it.The second theme is Synaptic Health. Here we investigate factors that affect the loss of neuron synapses. This is important because unlike neurons, synapses (the connections between neurons), can be generated, which is critical to learning and maintaining memory. The third area is Neuroimmunology. This is important as inflammation is a systemic problem that is known to affect the brain and might have systemic solutions, and so represents a promising area for new treatments.


The objectives of the Dementias Platform UK renewal (DPUK2) are to:
1. Increase the precision of experimental medicine (EM) through precision phenotyping according to genetic risk
2. Increase the capacity of EM through streamlined systems and integrated informatics
3. Increase the opportunity for EM through agile and adaptive global partnerships

These will be achieved through three inter-dependent workstreams comprising:

1. Workstream A The Data Portal: The Data Portal will be enhanced to provide secure and auditable data management with an on-premise cloud, and hybrid solutions for :
– Observational and EM multi-modal data discovery
– In silico experiments including multi-modal and machine learning analysis
– Enriched phenotyping for the Clinical Studies Register
– Knowledge development and preservation

2. Workstream B The Trials Delivery Framework (TDF): The TDF will provide a recruitment and study delivery mechanisms for dementia experimental medicine:
– Pre-clinical recruitment via the Clinical Studies Register
– Early disease recruitment via existing NIHR and NHS investments (Join Dementia Research, BRCs, memory clinics)
– Trial delivery centre network drawn from existing structures including the DPUK imaging network, EPAD and NIHR TRC-D and BRCs.

3. Workstream C The EM Incubator: The EM incubator nurtures academic-industry partnerships for precision mechanistic EM studies, demonstrating the value of this approach through a series of pump-prime funded experiments on:
WP 5- Vascular Health
WP 6- Synaptic Health
WP 7- Neuroimmunology

DPUK2 aims to develop its EM portfolio according to scientific interest and further funding.