Accelerating Detection of Disease: UK health research programme to keep future generations healthy

Posted on: 10/08/2020

Accelerating Detection of Disease (ADD) is the UK’s largest ever health research programme. By building the most detailed picture we’ve ever had of the UK’s health, it will help us detect common diseases earlier and allow more people to live healthier lives for longer. ADD offers an unparalleled opportunity to support developing industry in diagnostics, artificial intelligence and healthcare.


The opportunity:

Today, millions of people in the UK and around the world spend many years of their later life in poor health. ADD is designed to find out as much as possible about how health changes as people age, so we can track back to find the earliest signs of common diseases such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.


By developing a more detailed understanding of what makes certain people more likely to develop a disease, plus what to look out for before any symptoms appear, ADD has the potential to help to develop far more effective approaches to both prevention and treatment.


The idea:

ADD is being established to deliver a world-leading cohort of up to 5 million participants over the age of 30 by 2024 which will support research intended to improve the early detection, risk stratification, and early intervention of chronic diseases in individuals, before symptoms present. The cohort aims to collect biological samples and health related data on all 5 million participants, and repeat samples will be collected from as many participants as possible. Research into early detection and intervention will be carried out on as many participants as possible and with their consent, participant data will be linked to NHS records, and some information will be fed back to participants if they have agreed. Participants will be invited to consent to recall for further blood samples and/or clinical studies. The programme aims to be inclusive and ensure diversity among participants, and to support broader research into Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS) and improving their utility across a wider range of ancestries.


The unrivalled depth and detail of the ADD programme will make it a unique resource for health research. It could hold the key to huge numbers of discoveries. Researchers from across academia and industry involved in health research will have the chance to apply to use ADD to conduct studies that could improve the way we detect, diagnose and treat diseases.


An ambitious collaboration between the public, charity and private sector:

Research programmes like this are very expensive, so we are bringing together resources from the public, charity and private sector to make it happen. The ADD programme has initial funding of £79 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund provided by UK Research and Innovation which is being used to set up and begin to deliver the programme. Matched funding of up to £160 million is being sought from charities and industry partners.


Private Sector involvement:
There is an opportunity for interested industry partners to become Founding Participants in the project by providing funding in return for which they will receive a number of rights, preferential terms compared to companies who do not invest, and become part of the programme’s advisory structure in the future.  An Industry Advisory Group, comprising members from pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics companies, has been convened to work with the project to help define the model for industry engagement and we would be keen to extend the invitation to join this group to other companies who are not currently involved and would be interested in becoming a Founding Participant. The programme will look to sign contracts with Founding Participants in Q4 2020. For those companies not in a position to become a Founding Participant there will still be the opportunity to apply to use the resource in the future in return for a fee.

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