Theme leads, Professors Clare Mackay and Simon Lovestone, reveal details of the world’s biggest and most in-depth studies into dementia on BBC Radio 4’s World at One. Known as the ‘Deep and Frequent Phenotyping Study’, it is hoped that the broad range of tests on people in their middle ages will open up paths to early diagnosis and offer clues to effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease before major damage to the brain has been done.
Reporter, Andrew Bomford, visits Older Adults and Dementia theme lead, Professor Mackay, at one of the NIHR Oxford Health BRC’s core facilities – the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) (pictured above) – to look in on an MRI scan. It is one of the wide range of tests that is part of the study. Listen to his report for BBC Radio 4’s World at One, 26 June 2017:
The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping Study is going to do every one of these tests that anybody has ever explored. We’re going to see if any one of them measures change before people have symptoms, and then we’re going to combine them using big data analytics.” Professor Simon Lovestone, Informatics / Digital Health theme lead
In a follow-up report on 27 June 2017 for the World at One, Professor Clare Mackay talks about the big data approach, and Professor Simon Lovestone considers what has been the greatest obstacle to progress so far. Is it our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, the drugs, or the clinical trials?
Listen to the second report by Andrew Bomford for BBC Radio 4’s World at One, 27 June 2017:
In a cartoon version you’d imagine that people go all the way through their lives performing at a particular level, and then they just start to decline very gradually when they reach a particular age. This is people who would go on to develop disease. And that very early stage of that, the gradient is very, very shallow, so we need really sensitive measures to be able to pick it up.” Professor Clare Mackay
“It might be that everything that we’ve learnt about Alzheimer’s disease is wrong? I don’t think that’s the case. It might be that everything that we know about Alzheimer’s disease is right, it’s just that the drugs are not very good? I don’t think that’s the case either. Or it might be that what we know about Alzheimer’s disease is right, and some of the drugs we’ve developed might work, but the clinical trials are not good enough? I think that’s the case.” Professor Simon Lovestone
The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping Study is a multi-site study, led by Professor Simon Lovestone at the University of Oxford, and is funded by the MRC and NIHR as part of Dementias Platform UK – a UK-wide infrastructure network designed to support large, multicentre studies into dementia.
Read the related BBC Health online article – ‘Spotting the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s‘.