Dementia, mental health and neurodegeneration
Dementia and mental health in old age have profound societal and economic impacts and are priority NIHR research areas.
Improving translational research capabilities in neurodegeneration and dementia is also a key healthcare mission of the UK Life Sciences Vision.
As global leaders in Lewy body dementia (LBD) our aims will be to develop a deeper understanding of the processes that drive LBD and improved methods to allow for better and earlier diagnosis of dementia, in particular LBD.
Psychiatric symptoms cause significant morbidity/mortality when comorbid with other multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs) including dementia.
Leveraging our excellence in ageing and translational mental health research, we will identify the mechanisms driving co-association of depression in older people with MLTCs.
What we cover in this theme
The Lewy body dementias (LBDs) include Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s Disease with Dementia (PDD). They are the second to third most common cause of degenerative dementia in older people after Alzheimer’s disease.
This means in the UK that approximately 130,000 people are affected by LBD and this is expected to double over the next 30 years.
However, despite the significant number of people affected our understanding of how to best diagnose and treat LBD remains poor. The multisystem nature of LBD means that single solutions will not be effective. Solving problems in LBD requires combined approaches and innovations working together in synergy.
Our work in dementia sits within an integrated set of research themes that make up the NIHR Newcastle BRC, all of which work closely together to understand their disease area, as well as increasing our understanding of ageing processes.
Psychiatric symptoms cause significant morbidity/mortality when comorbid with other multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs) including dementia. Leveraging our excellence in ageing and translational mental health research we will research treatments for mood disorders and address the MLTC associated with depression.
How we carry out our research
The theme brings together clinicians and researchers with expertise in this area, all with access to state-of-the-art equipment to carry out translational research studies that enhance our understanding of dementia.
In Newcastle University’s Lewy Body Lab, we use a wide range of investigative and analytic techniques ranging from clinical to advanced neuroimaging to better understand the cause of LBD, improve the early diagnosis of LBD and, ultimately, offer better treatment and care for people with LBD.
Professor Hamish McAllister-Williams, co-lead for the theme, leads the Northern Centre for Mood Disorders (NCMD) which is a collaboration between CNTW and Newcastle University. The aims of NCMD are to enhance research and education related to mood disorders.
Who we work with
Our Dementia, Mental Health and Neurodegeneration theme sits across our Newcastle Hospitals, Newcastle University and Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (CNTW) partnership.
We have significant links with charities, such as the Lewy Body Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, who dedicate their time to increasing our knowledge of dementia, as well as supporting people and their families who have been affected by the condition.
Within the NIHR, we link closely with the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration (TRC), through deputy chair and theme lead Professor John-Paul Taylor. We also link with the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH TRC), with co-theme lead Professor Hamish McAllister-Williams leading on the workstream in Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD).
We have established and active roles within the UK dementia and mood disorders research ecosystems (e.g. NIHR Dementia and Mental Health TRCs, Dementia Platforms UK, Oxford Brain Health Clinic Initiative, Polygenic Risk Score Programme).
Making a difference – our impact
The use of vagus nerve stimulation for difficult-to-treat depression