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Major UK effort to study dementia

20 June 2014 09:23

Scientists have announced a new large-scale study into dementia

Scientists have announced a new large-scale study into dementia

The health details of around two million UK volunteers are to be used in the biggest ever research effort into dementia.

The Medical Research Council's £16 million UK Dementias Research Platform (UKDP) will involve the latest genetic, brain imaging and cognitive knowledge and health and lifestyle information from people older than 50 from studies such as the UK Biobank.

Backed by industry and Government money, the research will see scientists examining the causes of dementia across Alzheimer's and other conditions.

They want to find out the types of people the conditions affect the most and learn more about what causes them in the first place, as well as better understanding the biomarkers and what speeds up and slows down the processes.

UKDP director and University of Cardiff scientist Dr John Gallacher said changes in the body other than in the brain are known to trigger and affect dementia and this can happen a long time before people are diagnosed with it.

He said infected and inflamed organs can have an impact on the condition and the key to knowing more about this is studying people who do not have it, those considered likely to contract it and those who have it already.

Dr Gallacher intends to examine the effects numerous factors have on dementia, such as other illnesses and what people eat. The ultimate goal is to use the information to find new ways or use drugs that already exist to treat it.

UKDP and six big companies have agreed to pool their information and resources on dementia in the biggest body of research into the condition to date.

Science Minister David Willetts says by collaborating in this way they are doubling the amount of money that has been spent on researching dementia in recent years and provides an example of the high quality life science work that is going on in the UK.

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