Dementia

We improve lives of people living with dementia by understanding more about the causes, treatments and potential cures.

More about Dementia research in Newcastle

Dementia affects 1 in 6 people over the age of 80, and 40,000 people under 65 in the UK. Research into better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia has become an increased priority for the government and a therefore for the NIHR.

At the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre we examine ageing syndromes and long-term conditions. While dementia is not exclusive to the older population, it is commonly associated with the cellular processes of ageing and is therefore a key priority area of research.

Our approach at the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre is to build on experimental medicine in dementia and other long-term conditions, and apply this knowledge to common ageing syndromes such as sarcopenia, frailty and multimorbidity.

Dementia research in Newcastle

NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research was the forerunner in establishing a differential diagnosis for Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB); a common, yet lesser known form of dementia which is estimated to affect more than 100,000 people in the UK. This novel diagnostic criteria resulted in an earlier and more accurate diagnosis, as well as improved understanding of the course of Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Our aims

Within our current dementia theme, our focus on dementia caused by Lewy Body disease (LDB) continues. This comprises people with Parkinson’s who develop dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD).

We build on significant expertise to date in order to:

  • gain a greater understanding of the origins and nature of key DLB-related symptoms
  • develop novel biomarkers to track DLB
  • trial potential treatments specific to the symptoms of each individual living with DLB

We have identified links and relationships with dementia and common age-related conditions, that when occurring simultaneously, represent areas of unmet needs within clinical care. Reduced mobility and falls are significantly common in LBD and as a Biomedical Research Centre, we have strong, multidisciplinary teams who can examine this area in depth.

How we carry out research into dementia

Our dementia research is carried out through a combination of ongoing clinical studies with volunteers, as well as scientific research on brain tissue through the Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource.

These studies rely on the vital participation of the public, both healthy and diagnosed. Our scientific programme would not be as rich in patient-led research and care, without the ongoing support of volunteers.

The Clinical Research Facility hosts a variety of state-of-the-art technologies and facilities that support this.

The Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource, based at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality, allows us to increase our understanding of dementia through careful examination of healthy and affected brain tissue.  We currently have over 280 LBD donations.

Our new, and state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including PET/MRI scanner enables non-invasive imaging of volunteers for ageing research, cancer research and radiochemistry research.

As part of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, we approach dementia research as an independent discipline, but also as a research topic that co-exists with other syndromes affecting the older person, in order to maximise research and clinical impacts on care for the ageing population.

By joining these areas of research, we can discover how people living with dementia can go on to develop additional and more complex long-term conditions, or how treatments and diagnoses for age-related illnesses may be affected by the patient already living with dementia.