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Global Alzheimer's research project gets underway

Global Alzheimer's research project gets underway
4th April 2014

A global study looking at the causes of Alzheimer's disease has kicked off at Cardiff University.

Researchers are attempting to determine how much of an effect lifestyle and genetics have on the development of dementia in older individuals.

It is expected to be the most comprehensive study ever done on this issue and will involve over one million people, the BBC reports.

Professor Julie Williams, the principal investigator, said: "For too long scientists studying Alzheimer's have been working in silos, engaged in a single-minded 'race' to try and beat the disease.

"That's simply not going to happen unless we pull together."

She added that the study would look to combine the work being done by those analysing how lifestyle affects the chances of developing dementia, with scientists analysing how genetics have a role in the disease.

The aim is to get a better understanding of how the disease works in different patients, so that more personalised treatments might be created - possibly even therapies that offset dementia altogether.

Professor Williams predicts that in the future, this study will allow GPs to perform a simple test to determine an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Gene therapy and lifestyle changes could be agreed upon between the doctor and patient to give them the best possible chance of coping with the disease.

Researchers will also have the ability to distinguish between those who have a high risk and those who have a low risk of developing Alzheimer's.

This, in the long term, would allow doctors to intervene sooner and slow down the damaging of the brain.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for between 50 per cent to 70 per cent of cases.

In the UK, there are currently around 800,000 people with dementia, while this is expected to rise to over one million by 2021.

Approximately 17,000 of them are young individuals, while two-thirds are female and the proportion of people with the disease doubles for every 5 year age group.

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