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18 Jul 17. Dementia - new brain scanning study

Dementia researchers are to receive a £1.9 million investment to identify the earliest brain changes associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early Brain Changes

Although the condition is associated with old age, changes in the brain that lead to dementia can occur decades before symptoms appear. Experts say that understanding these changes are key to developing ways to intervene before irreversible damage has been done.

The TriBEKa consortium is set up to understand the specific brain changes that take place during the middle age of an individual’s life course – we know that it is during the middle age where the earliest phases of neurodegenerative diseases start.

Dementia is an urgent health issue and requires forward-thinking international collaboration to defeat it. As brain changes that cause dementia happen many years before symptoms, we have an opportunity to prevent progression before people are affected.

Professor Craig RitchieDirector, Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh 

Brain Imaging

The brain imaging project –  will paint the clearest picture yet of the first factors that determine risk of dementia.

The TriBEKa (Tri BarcelonaEdinburgh and Karolinska) Imaging Platform builds upon large scale projects led by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Dementia Prevention in the UK, the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center in Spain and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

The imaging platform will be closely linked with the flagship studies in each centre: PREVENT Dementia (Edinburgh) ALFA study (Barcelona) and FINGER (Karolinska).

Researchers will use a magnetic resonance imaging  (MRI) brain scanner to measure the brain structure. 

Short audio on BBC Radio 4 - Prevent Study (17.40mins)

The TriBEKa Consortium

 The TriBEKa platform is designed to deliver the largest and best characterised data for understanding neurodegenerative disease and related clinical models in mid-life that is ever assembled globally. The project will include data from more than 1000 participants. The TriBEKa imaging platform will involve younger, middle aged participants, and therefore bring empirical data and knowledge to an earlier stage of the life course. The large scale projects TriBEKa is aligned with already collect vast amounts of data from people in their mid-life so the collaboration will enable a deeper analysis and discovery of risk factors in mid-life.

The consortium aims to offer the academic and drug development community evidence upon which to base drug development and other interventions. These drug developments will benefit from new insights, biomarker discovery, patient stratification and novel clinical and neuropsychological outcome measures. The participants are followed longitudinally to incorporate any changes in outcomes into the modeling of how neurodegenerative diseases develop starting in the earliest stages.

TriBEKa will therefore be a facilitator for evidence based interventions for dementia prevention, with the ultimate purpose of playing a significant part in the advancement of neuroscience to secure prevention of dementia by 2025.