Healthcare innovators at the forefront of dementia research
As one of the biggest challenges we face today, with numbers of people suffering from the condition expected to double in the next 30 years, medical research is vital in understanding the causes of the disease, developing effective treatments, improving care and finding a cure.
Within Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, is backing a number of pioneering studies, including the DIAMOND-Lewy study.
The large-scale study looks at patients living with dementia with Lewy Bodies or Parkinson’s disease dementia, to see how they are supported in services and their experiences of treatment and care. It is aimed at improving the diagnosis and care of people living with
dementia, as well as providing more training to support patients.
Dr Chris Davison, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist and Principal Investigator (PI), who specialises in dementia research, explains more about the DIAMOND-Lewy study and why it’s vital more people register an interest in participating in dementia research.
Dr Davison said: “Our knowledge of dementia currently lags behind other major conditions such as cancer or heart disease, so it’s really important that we close the gap and encourage more patients to sign up to dementia research.
“The DIAMOND-Lewy study is running throughout the North East and involves interviewing patients with Lewy Bodies or Parkinson’s disease dementia and talking about their experiences of interventions. We want to continually improve the quality of life and treatment for people living with dementia and in order to do that, we have to better understand how they are supported.
“This type of study is easy to get involved in and it’s non-invasive. It uses questionnaires and interviews to find out how patients are progressing. Recruitment for the study is going very well, however, we are always looking for more patients to sign up to help people living with the condition now and in the future.”
Dr Davison is currently also Principal Investigator on the ALOIS study, a large European study which follows people with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers every six months. It assesses patients and carers to see how they progress cognitively and functionally and looks at how they are coping over the years.
This study is also non-invasive and patients are taken to hospital, given tea and coffee and invited to take part in some questionnaires, over a maximum of two hours.
Dr Davison continued: “We hope more patients will sign up to dementia research, including people with Alzheimer’s, dementia with Lewy Bodies, Parkinson’s disease dementia and other forms of dementia or cognitive problems.
“There are pioneering trials ongoing which look at preventing dementia too, involving people who have an increased risk of the condition. Anyone interested in any kind of dementia research can register with ‘Join Dementia Research’ to express their interest in participating in a study, without committing to anything. Equally, carers of people living with dementia can also sign up. We can’t guarantee there will be a suitable study, but if people are interested and have registered, we will try and find something that might be appropriate for them.
“It’s a really exciting time for dementia research and there are a lot more studies we’re working on. Because people are living longer, there are more people living with dementia and its effects. It’s vital we continue to better diagnose dementia and improve support in the short term, as well as in the longer term, aiming to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and different types of dementia. With all that in mind, we really need more people to take part in research and change lives for the better.”
For more about Dr Chris Davison’s role as Principle Investigator for the DIAMOND-lewy body study, click here.
Sign up to Join Dementia Research.