Researchers have found that lipid biomarkers can be used to predict a small amount of variance in cognition, by using blood samples from the Lothian 1936 birth cohort. Finding effective biomarkers – biological signs – of cognitive ability is critical to our understanding of the early stage disease processes, where there is most chance of developing effective interventions. This was a DPUK-funded study, led by Professor Ian Deary at the University of Edinburgh.
The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping (DFP) study will be almost certainly the most extensively assessed cohort of people with very early Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. This is a DPUK-funded study led by Professor Richard Wade-Martins at the University of Oxford.
One of the principal challenges for the dementia research community worldwide is how we can study the brain in the very early stages of the disease. This is a study within DPUK, led by Dr Vanessa Raymont at the University of Oxford.
This team is using a range of different imaging techniques to undertake a proof-of-concept study to test if PET scans can provide useful information about 'glial cells' – an important helper cell in the brain. The degeneration of glial cells may have a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a DPUK-funded study led by Professor Paul Matthews at Imperial College London.
The brain and the heart are the two organs which have been studied more than any other, providing a profound, though still incomplete, understanding of ageing and the development of disease. This is a DPUK-funded study, led by Professor Steve Williams at King’s College London.
This study looks at how the changes in the rate of production of protein in the brain affects Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, it tests the hypothesis that reduction in cerebral protein synthesis occurs. This is a DPUK-funded study, led by Giovanna Mallucci at the University of Cambridge.
Scientists are looking to find out whether MEG scans which measure the electrical activity in the brain can be used to detect some of the very earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease: the loss of connections between the neurons in the brain.
Stroke commonly affects cognition, and vascular dementia is driven by stroke disease in some way. This is a multi-funder study led by Professor Joanna Wardlaw at the University of Edinburgh.
There is significant evidence that inflammation is a primary factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease, rather than a consequence of the disease. The team is conducting genetic tests known as 'genotyping' on blood samples from DPUK cohorts, and using these to produce an exemplar statistical model of Alzheimer's disease prediction.
Researchers at Janssen and Imperial College London have teamed up to tackle a challenge that faces all drug development companies working on Alzheimer’s: how to intervene early – before the damage inflicted by the disease is too great, and too late.
DPUK enabled experimental medicine
Researchers will carry out additional PET scanning of 100 people who have already had PET scans as part of their involvement in two existing health study cohorts – EPAD and PREVENT. The extra information they collect on the 'tau' protein, when combined with existing data from these participants, will create a very rich dataset for modelling the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and subsequent dementia.