University Medical Research in UK Under Threat

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesSeptember 24, 2015; Times Higher EducationUniversities in the UK may not be able to continue doing medical research, or so warns the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).University medical research in the UK is funded through both government and private funding, most charitable. The government funding is channeled through the National Health Service (NHS) public hospital system, the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Private funding comes from charities and industry. In 2014, charities were the largest single source of medical research funding at £1.3 billion. However, those three sources of government funding—NHS, MRC, and HEFCE—together provided just under £2.2 billion.The twist in the tail is that charities mostly will not fund overhead costs of research. Aisling Burnand, chief executive of the AMRC, says that the “policy of not covering overheads is long-standing.” Charities “want to show to donors that their money is directly funding research.” Since 2008, the government, through HEFCE, has provided funds specifically to cover this overhead gap. It adds around an extra quarter to universities’ charitable research grants.Now, there is speculation that government funding is to be squeezed. MRC is bracing itself for possible major cuts in next year’s budget. Government has asked the department responsible for funding the government research councils to model reductions of between 25 and 40 percent in the run-up to the annual government spending review. In the last review in 2010, the research budget was held steady, but only in cash terms.There is also a possibility that HEFCE could be scrapped altogether. The universities and science minister, Jo Johnson, at a Universities UK conference described the university funding and regulation as “ripe for simplification.”Industry, unlike in the U.S., is a junior player in medical research funding. Data is hard to find; however, a 2011 Report for Cancer Research UK estimated research income from industry at UK higher education institutions—not just for medical research, but overall—to be only five percent of the total private and government funding. The same report suggested that a drop in government funding would have a “crowding-in” effect, reducing funding from the private sector.AMRC head Burnand says that a reduction in funding for research in the spending review could mean that “universities will not consider taking charitable grants” because they cannot afford to cover the related overhead.The chief executive of the MRC, Professor Sir John Savill, warns that a cut of 25 percent or more would be “little short of catastrophic for the science base.” It could spur major pharmaceutical companies to leave the UK for the US, France, Germany, Singapore or even China.This warning is echoed by Burnand, who said some charities have already been spending their research funds overseas. “If universities’ money declines, then we will look abroad.”—John GodfreyShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Exenatide treatment improves depression symptoms in PD patients

first_imgAug 1 2018Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), such as depression, apathy, cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and sensory symptoms, can have a greater impact on health-related quality of life than motor deficits. In a post hoc analysis of the exenatide-PD trial results, investigators found that patients on exenatide treatment experienced improvements in severity of depression, independent of whether their motor function improved. They report their findings in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.GLP-1 receptor agonists are used to treat people with type 2 diabetes by stimulating the GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas, which triggers the release of insulin. GLP-1 receptors have been found in the brain and may also play a role to in the treatment of PD. In the exenatide-PD trial, a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in patients with moderate-stage PD, the GLP-1 receptor agonist exenatide showed positive effects on the motor severity of the disease, which continued 12 weeks beyond the period of exenatide exposure.”In the original analysis of the exenatide-PD trial, the primary outcome was a comparison in the motor severity of PD,” explained Thomas Foltynie, PhD, MBBS, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology, and The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK, who led the exenatide trial and is lead investigator of the current study. “Analysis of pre-defined secondary outcomes revealed no statistically significant differences between patients treated with exenatide in total non-motor symptom burden and overall quality of life measures, including the Non Motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS). However, the response of individual non-motor symptoms to an intervention may vary.”The current research was a post hoc analysis of the trial data and aimed to identify whether in addition to improvement in motor function, there were any indications that exenatide affected specific non-motor symptoms of PD compared to placebo, rather than considering the non-motor symptoms severity scale as a whole.Related StoriesCPAP treatment for sleep apnea can improve depression symptomsSocial media use and television viewing linked to rise in adolescent depressive symptomsWeighing risks and benefits of antidepressant medication for older adultsResults indicated that all measures evaluating depression improved in patients who received exenatide. The proportion of patients reporting depressive symptoms in the placebo group increased from 17% at baseline to 25% at 48 weeks, while in the exenatide group, the proportion of patients reporting depressive symptoms reduced from 23% at baseline to 6% of patients at 48 weeks. Among the other post hoc comparisons of specific non-motor symptoms, self-reported apathy and cognition also improved with exenatide.These results are of particular interest given the effects on mood appear to be independent from the previously reported beneficial effects on motor function. Furthermore, they are consistent with laboratory data indicating that exenatide has potential beneficial effects on mood in animal models.”These data should be considered as hypothesis-generating rather than formal evidence to support an effect of exenatide on mood or cognition and should not be used to influence patient treatment decisions. Nevertheless, we will consider carefully how best to capture mood severity in planned future trials of exenatide in PD,” commented Professor Foltynie.”The study of potential benefits of anti-diabetic agents that might modify disease progression in Parkinson’s is a vibrant research area. Not only are we learning about what the effects of the drugs might be in patients, but emerging parallel work in laboratories is also beginning to unravel the underlying mechanisms of action of the drugs in the brain,” added Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Research, Professor and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. Source:http://www.iospress.comlast_img read more