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Our successes

Life-changing discoveries

Medical research delivers benefits across the whole spectrum of society, from its primary aim of improving human health to creating a skilled workforce, growing innovative businesses and generating inward investment for the UK. Here is a small selection of the Medical Research Council's successes, both recent and historic.
[The MRC in numbers’ figures are cumulative from 2006 to 2016. The ‘UK medical research funding’ figures are adapted from UKCRC (2015) UK Health Research Analysis 2014. ISBN: 978-0-903730-20-4]


Understanding Alzheimer’s genetics

Brain health

Genetic data from over 300,000 people has revealed three new genes linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. UK Biobank provides researchers with information from more than 500,000 volunteers to tackle major diseases. Read more about our dementia research.

Discovering tomorrow's antibiotics

Drug resistance

Researchers have revealed promising antibiotic properties of a compound originally discovered in the 1940s. Scientists around the world are investigating new ways to tackle anti-microbial resistance (AMR) which poses a significant threat to health. Explore our AMR research.

Pioneering a new class of drugs

Working with industry

Nobel Prize-winner Sir Greg Winter pioneered the first humanised therapeutic antibodies. By collaborating with pharmaceutical companies, a new class of drugs now exists for millions of patients worldwide suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Read more about working with industry.

Helping patients to see again

Repair & replacement

Two patients facing sight loss from an age-related eye disease can read again following a stem cell-derived treatment. Scientists repaired damage to the back of their eyes by inserting a ‘patch’ made using stem cells. Read more about regenerative medicine.

Discovery for medicine

Portable DNA sequencing technology

Based on decades of discovery research funded by the MRC, spin-out company Oxford Nanopore launched a USB-sized DNA sequencing technology. Genome sequencing has revolutionised disease outbreak monitoring and has huge potential in personalised medicine.

NHS genomic medicine service

The 100,000 Genomes Project has successfully reached its sequencing goal. The project aims to create a new service to deliver care that’s personalised to the genetics of the patient. It has already helped one in four participants with rare diseases receive a diagnosis.

Growing kidney-like tissue

Scientists have grown human kidney-like tissue which is able to produce urine, as normal kidneys do, when transplanted into mice. They used human embryonic stem cells to create filtering parts of the kidney in a laboratory, a significant step towards new treatments for kidney failure.

Transforming health

Informing breast cancer treatment

A blood test detecting DNA shed by cancer cells could tell whether the breast cancer drug palbociclib is working, months earlier than standard tests. Women currently wait up to three months for scan results to see if the drug is working.

Bloodless diabetes testing

Scientists have created a skin patch that can measure blood glucose levels through the skin, without the finger-prick tests used daily by millions of diabetics. The patch senses blood sugar levels by pulling glucose from fluid between cells.

Pioneering UK cancer treatment

The first patient in the UK received prostate cancer treatment using a new technology combining MRI and radiotherapy. By adjusting radiation beams in real time, it lowers the risk of damaging healthy tissues, reducing side-effects for patients.