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An ambitious, multicentre research programme into Vascular Dementia, led by DPUK scientists, is due to start later this year following confirmation of £1.2 million funding by Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer's Society and Dementias Platform UK.

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Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease. The memory loss, thinking and language difficulties that afflict sufferers occur when the brain is damaged because of problems with blood supply. Previous research recognises links between vascular dementia and stroke, and this new DPUK-funded study aims to improve how doctors identify and treat the type of dementia that can occur after a stroke.

Experts based in a number of DPUK partner institutions – Edinburgh, Cambridge, UCL, Oxford and KCL – will work with colleagues in Manchester, Nottingham, Leicester and Glasgow to track the changes in memory and thinking skills in more than 2000 stroke survivors across the UK. Not all stroke survivors go on to develop vascular dementia and the researchers hope to shed light on the causes of dementia in stroke patients and identify the warning signs that could help predict which patients are likely to be affected.

 

By comparing those who develop vascular dementia after stroke with those who don’t, we hope to find out what leads to deterioration in memory and thinking skills, and find a way to prevent it.
Joanna Wardlaw, DPUK Vascular Mechanisms experimental medicine theme lead

 

The stroke survivors who take part will complete regular tests to assess their memory and thinking skills, give blood samples, and undergo brain scans. Their results will be used by the research team – world leaders in the areas of vascular dementia, stroke, large clinical studies, brain scanning, blood vessel and heart diseases, hospital and family practice, and complex data analysis – who will work together to generate insights from this rich and detailed data.

 The scale and scope of this study represents a step change in dementia research in the UK.

John Gallacher, DPUK director, says: “DPUK is delighted to both fund and facilitate this work. The group’s work will be one of the largest stroke studies to use and contribute to the DPUK portal, and I’m delighted that the team will also be able to benefit from the cognitive testing and biomarkers discovery work in other areas of the platform. The scale, and collaborative nature of the study represents what can now be achieved in the UK with the DPUK infrastructure in place.”

 Joanna Wardlaw, DPUK Vascular Mechanisms Experimental Medicine Theme lead, says: ‘by comparing those who develop vascular dementia after stroke with those who don’t, we hope to find out what leads to deterioration in memory and thinking skills, and find a way to prevent it.’