On the 3rd June 2019, the SDRC launched our first Impact Report

The report dedicates a section to the progress and ongoing work of each of the SDRC research themes. Over the next few days we are publishing a blog for each of the themes. Today, we are focusing on the Diagnosis theme, lead by Professor Alison Murray. Read more below:

There are currently 150 researchers and 29 PhD students working within the Diagnosis theme across Scotland. Collectively, the researchers working in the theme have secured £69 million in grant funding and 264 publications in the past five years.

Research into diagnosis of conditions that can cause dementia is advancing all the time. This can include new ways of clinical testing of patients and coming up with more specific tests to be applied in clinical practice. New ways of brain scanning can involve anything from inventing new machines to new ways of analysing the scanning information.

Current research at the University of Aberdeen concentrates on two main areas.  Firstly, they want to understand what makes people more or less likely to develop diseases that cause dementia by looking at people over a long course of time. These are called cohort studies. Research in this area has focused on the Aberdeen birth cohorts, which study the lives of people born in Aberdeen in 1921, 1936 and currently those born between 1950 and 1955.  Secondly, there are scientists based in labs doing research into diseases that can result in dementia. This work seeks to understand how these diseases progress, and uses brain scans to see if treatments that are being developed for these conditions are effective.

At the University of Edinburgh there are two main dementia-related initiatives.  The first is the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (EPAD) clinical trial which is occurring across multiple centres in Europe. The second is the Dementia Research Institute where research to understand the brain ageing and how disease that causes dementia occurs.

In the future there are real prospects of dementia prevention by better understanding the risk factors and what can be done during life to reduce these. There are also new scanning methods being developed, for example a completely new way of carrying out magnetic resonance imaging called fast field cycling MRI developed at the University of Aberdeen. There is also work on new radioactive tracers that can help with specific early diagnosis in Alzheimer’s disease.

If you want to know about dementia research in Scotland, click here to read the SDRC Impact Report 2019 in full. 

Find out more about the SDRC research themes here