Extract from 'Getting results: why NHS clinical trials are the envy of the world', The Guardian, 5 Jul 2018, sarah boseley.
Things have moved on, but Shomroni’s mother developed vascular dementia and her aunt had Alzheimer’s. There is still little treatment for either. Shomroni, who works at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, wanted to help in any way she could.
She signed up to Join Dementia Research, a service managed by the NIHR which she saw on the Alzheimer’s Society website. Nearly 36,000 people have opted in so far, indicating their willingness to take part in suitable studies. Nearly 10,000 have been enrolled in trials.
Shomroni is taking part in a trial looking for ways to prevent dementia. “I spent one day in the hands of an absolutely lovely nurse, who does everything from take blood pressure, urine samples, swabs from your mouth and brain testing from verbal to drawing stuff to doing things on the computer screen,” she said. “An MRI is part of it and I agreed to have a lumbar puncture, which is optional.” The tests will be repeated every two years.
Anything that is good for the heart is good for the brain. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and dementia. - Ivan Koychev
Ivan Koychev, a clinical lecturer in old age psychiatry at the NIHR, is running the study, called Prevent, which is designed to see whether the lifestyles of of 40- to 59-year-olds have an effect on who develops dementia and who does not. “We know that dementia starts up to 25 years before the first symptoms,” he said.
In addition, regular exercise and intellectual activity may be protective, and living alone – without the stimulation of other people – may be a risk.
There is a genetic component, but it is stronger in those who develop early dementia. In dementia that develops after 65, there may be more potentially modifiable risk factors. It is likely that a lot of the volunteers in the study will, like Shomroni, have family members with dementia, but that does not exclude them.
Shomroni is a keen advocate for taking part in research. We should all think of doing it for our futures and our children’s futures, she said. “We’ve come a long way in medicine and research is the reason. The brain is incredibly complex but the more we know, the better our chances to slow, stop and even correct the disease – to give people back their minds and to give people their families back.
“When it comes to trials we are scared of what? We can make life so much better.”
Read the full article: 'Getting results: why NHS clinical trials are the envy of the world', The Guardian, 5 Jul 2018.
Find out more about taking part in Dementia Research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Find out more about the PREVENT study.