Brain scans

About dementia research

Dementia is a term used to describe a set of symptoms associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Forgetfulness, confusion, language difficulty and disorientation are just some of the symptoms people develop, each of which can severely affect daily life. The condition can be frustrating and distressing for both the person with dementia, and their friends and family.

What causes dementia?

  • Dementia occurs when there has been some form of damage to brain cells
  • Damage may occur from abnormal proteins accumulating around brain cells. It is these abnormal proteins which change the normal way brain cells work
  • Damage to brain cells may also occur if there is a reduced supply of oxygen to the brain by narrowing or blocking of blood vessels

What is dementia research?

  • Before we can treat someone with dementia, we need to make sure that treatments are tested to make sure they are safe and that they work
  • This investigation and testing is called clinical research
  • Research looking at treatments for dementia is called dementia research 

About our dementia research

Studies involving medication:

  • Some of our dementia research involves trialling the use of routinely prescribed (licensed) medications in people with dementia
  • There is evidence that medications used to treat other illnesses such as acne, diabetes and heart disease may also help preserve brain function in people with dementia
  • There are strong advantages to studying the use of licensed medications because we already know they are safe to use

Studies not involving medication:

  • Some of our research involves collection of blood samples, brain images and medical history
  • Clinical information such as this help us investigate biomarkers (biological markers of change within the body) associated with dementia
  • Biomarkers can help us improve diagnostic techniques and tailor treatment to individuals

What does our research involve?

This depends on the type of study you decide to take part in. It may include:

  • Memory tests
  • Blood samples
  • Taking a medication
  • Undergo imaging of your brain

An average a participant can be part of our research for anything from 6 months to 2 years.

Why is research needed?

  • The occurrence of dementia in the UK is predicted to rise to approximately 1.1 million people over the next 10 years
  • Research helps us learn more about dementia; why some people get it, how we can improve treatment and if it’s possible to prevent it
  • This will help us work towards improving the quality of life for those affected by dementia now, and of the aging population in the future