epadEPAD is a major study which takes place all over Europe, and is led from the University of Edinburgh. It is one of the biggest dementia studies in the world and as such, it is hugely important that researchers are able to recruit lots of volunteers into the study.

We caught up with Sarah Gregory, study coordinator, and Stina Saunders, research assistant, who are currently working on the project.

What are the main aims of the study?

The aim of the EPAD study is to find early changes that happen in the brain when dementia starts developing – we want to know what these very early changes are so that we can intervene and stop the disease from progressing into dementia.

What does it involve for a participant?

Participants will attend the research site to complete physical assessments, such as blood samples and blood pressure readings, memory and thinking tasks and questionnaires. After these first assessments, they will have an MRI scan (a brain scan), and a lumbar puncture once a year. Lumbar punctures are used to obtain a small sample of spinal fluid which we use to test for a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

We use all of these assessments to understand risks for developing dementia across a wide group of people, and repeat the tests every year to understand how these risks may change over time.

How long is the study for?

The study is organised in two stages. In the first one, we will collect data from a large number of people and repeat the data collection visits once a year. In the second stage, we assess who is eligible to take part in drug studies suitable for people at a high risk of developing dementia.

It is important to be aware that anyone entering the EPAD study might be offered a chance to take part in a drug study. While this is of course only an offer, it means we would explain to the participant why they have been offered it and inform them what their risk status for developing dementia is.

EPAD is a longitudinal study, which means that there are several visits over a long period of time. It is very important, hence, to be aware all the study assessments are repeated once a year.

What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

With the EPAD study, we hope to investigate the very early changes that take place when dementia starts developing. We are involving a large number of people from all over Europe in order to make reliable conclusions.

Ultimately, with the EPAD study we hope to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s dementia.

Where is the study based?

The study is based at multiple sites across Europe. There are six sites currently open in the UK: Edinburgh, Tayside, Grampian, Glasgow, Oxford and West London. New sites are planned to open throughout 2018 – so it is important to keep your details on Join Dementia Research up to date, and to regularly check the website, as new sites close to you can be opened.

Who can take part? (eligibility criteria)

EPAD is looking for participants aged 50 and above without a diagnosis of dementia. All study participants are required to have a study partner, this is a friend or relative who can attend study visits with you and answer some brief questionnaires.

Volunteers should generally be in good health, and cannot have been diagnosed with cancer in the last 5 years. Finally, participants cannot currently be involved in a study involving taking medication.

You can see if you are eligible for this study or others around the nation by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.

Not registered with Join Dementia Research? Why not sign up today?