Developing the tools and treatments for early intervention to preserve cognitive health
Main location of work
Why the work is important
Prevention of dementia is a global health priority. The UK Government’s Life Sciences Vision (2021) lists ‘improving translational capabilities in neurodegeneration and dementia’ as one of its Great Healthcare Challenges. In August 2022 the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia and Neurodegeneration Mission was launched. This work of this Theme will contribute directly to the objectives of the Mission.
There are two major challenges to address:
(i) identifying individuals in whom new approved drugs, alongside non-pharmacological interventions are likely to be beneficial and (ii) developing sensitive, robust measures for earlier diagnosis and clinical trial outcomes.
The focus of the work is as follows:
- WP1– Refining and implementing computerized and remote cognitive testing and relative/caregiver reports for people at-risk of dementia in the general population and those referred to memory clinics (WP2). Another strand will focus on stratification of dementia risk.
- WP2– Building on the successful development in Oxford of a Brain Health Clinic (BHC) as a one-stop clinical and research assessment for patients referred with memory and cognitive complaints.
- WP3– Focuses on the identification of novel treatments.
What work will be carried out
WP1- An online suite incorporating cognitive tests, self and caregiver reports will be developed that can be conducted in person or remotely. Separate work will (i) create, refine and evaluate risk stratification models for developing dementia using UK Biobank data and (ii) pilot a screening study for people at high risk of developing dementia.
WP2- Joint clinical/research protocols facilitating cognitive assessment, blood biomarkers, genotyping and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be developed for referrals for gerontology and neurology-based patients. The feasibility of extending the BHC model will be explored.
WP3- Study of potential disease mechanisms, building on team expertise in big data, informatics-led target discovery and clinicians running early phase clinical trials alongside studies to validate drug candidates.
Patient and public involvement, engagement and participation
This Theme builds on the Older Adults and Dementia Theme in the current BRC which has put PPIEP at the heart of all work undertaken. There is a commitment to understanding the barriers to PPIEP participation in dementia research, to developing socially and culturally diverse PPIEP participation programmes. The current BHC Advisory Group will also be used to ensure co-production of the development and expansion of the BHC model and to forge new links via networks in GP surgeries and charities.
For more information on PPIEP please contact: email@example.com
Increasing research capacity and critical mass
This is a priority for the Theme with several young members of the team being early career ‘rising stars’ building careers in translational dementia research. The BHC work has also enabled research into clinical services to involve research participation of NHS staff members who would otherwise have limited exposure.