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An image of a brain scan from above © Canva

One of the big challenges facing dementia researchers is how to diagnose and track Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages – often decades before symptoms start to show. The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping (DFP) study will help scientists identify the best early warning signs of the condition and track responses to treatments.

About DFP

A DFP study volunteer with trial coordinator Tony Thayanandan

Damage to the brain can start to occur many years before we see symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and researchers need to be able to investigate and test treatments at this critical early stage. At present, it is difficult to prove that a new early-stage treatment works because any symptoms may be a long way off.

The DFP study aims to address this by creating a database of different measures taken from people at risk of Alzheimer's disease. These measures include regular brain scans, cognitive and memory tests, scans of magnetic fields generated by the brain, retinal imaging, blood tests, and the use of wearable technology to measure movement, gait and ongoing cognitive abilities. In the future, we'll be able to use the data obtained through DFP to understand if early interventions are working.

Bernard Clarke, a volunteer for the DFP study, prepares for his MEG scan with the help of two research assistants.DFP is recruiting 250 participants from across the UK who are over 60 and in good health, but with a family history of dementia. Not all of the study sites have the capacity to do every type of testing, so some participants will travel to nearby centres for certain tests.

For its size, DFP is the world's most detailed study to date into preclinical Alzheimer's disease. Those who volunteer will contribute to the most comprehensive set of assessments ever completed. Data from the study will be made available to researchers via the secure DPUK Data Portal.

The DFP study is run from within DPUK, led by Dr Vanessa Raymont of the University of Oxford, and is jointly funded by the MRC and NIHR.



DFPvolunteers.png Taking part as a volunteer>>


Study volunteer Gillian Brown talks to trial co-ordinator Tony Thayanandan.Our Research team>>