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Bleak future seen for U.K. brain research

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
London (UPI) Feb 11, 2011
The closure of drug company research facilities and deep funding cuts will have a disastrous impact on brain science in Britain, health experts warned.

Cuts proposed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council are expected to lead to the closure of at least 30 neuroscience research groups, adding to jobs already lost after big pharmaceutical companies shut down research programs or moved them abroad, The Guardian reported Thursday.

GlaxoSmithKline pulled out of antidepressant research in Britain last year and moved much of its research efforts to China in an effort to save $800 million a year by 2012, while AstraZeneca and Merck closed facilities across the country, the newspaper reported.

"There is now virtually no neuroscience being done by pharmaceutical companies in Britain," David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, said. "The prospects for the future are extremely bleak."

The BBSRC said it had to cut support for the field because it consumes "too great a proportion of funding."

Instead, the council has asked its funding committees to give priority to research projects in other areas, including food security, bioenergy, industrial biotechnology and basic biosciences.

One neuroscientist said the field was being unfairly penalized.

"This is disastrous," Colin Blakemore of Oxford University and former head of the Medical Research Council said. "One of the most successful areas of science in Britain is going to be demonized because it is so successful. It's the last straw that might break the camel's back."

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