brain 180Following limited progress with dementia innovation efforts, the Department of Health (DH) has commissioned RAND Europe to examine breakthroughs in the treatment of other conditions and to identify potentially transferable and adaptable lessons for the dementia context.

The past few decades have seen a number of medical breakthroughs that enabled the effective treatment of a range of conditions, including HIV and Breast Cancer, transforming them from fatal into manageable ones and DH is interested in the potential to learn from other disease areas to better understand the particular social, economic, political, legislative and scientific contexts that have contributed to accelerating progress and breakthroughs in treatment. Such learning could helpfully inform dementia research and innovation efforts, and help identify levers for supportive policy development, according to Health Minister Jeremy Hunt.

Rand's case studies identified four overarching and interdependent factors which enabled breakthroughs in treatment of other conditions:
- A commitment to tackling the science associated with a disease
- An active and committed advocacy community
- A flexible and responsive regulatory environment
- A coordinated strategic response and collaboration across sectors

In addition, the study identified three key ‘action areas’ and raises issues for policy dialogue and reflection. These relate to:
- Overcoming the science bottleneck and barriers to translation (e.g. the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, funding across the research and innovation value chain, the competitive landscape)
- Creating a strong and sustainable advocacy movement (e.g. the role of individuals, institutions and social media)
- Paving the way for conducive regulation (e.g. the feasibility of patent pools, open access and accelerated approval prospects)

Download the publication in full at http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR909.html