CCBS researchers in major dementia prevention brain imaging project
July 2017: Professor Craig Ritchie and team at the Centre for Dementia Prevention are part of a major brain imaging project - the TriBEKa consortium - looking at the first factors that determine risk of dementia.
The TriBEKa Consortium is a major brain imaging project that has received a £1.9 million investment to identify the earliest brain changes associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The initiative – the largest of its type to focus on this age group – is led by the University of Edinburgh, the BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Centre in Spain and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. The funding boost comes from the US-based Alzheimer’s Association and a donation from an anonymous international charitable foundation.
Researchers will use positron emission tomography (PET) brain scanning to detect harmful build-up of chemicals associated with dementia. Brain structure will be measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Participants in the study – aged between 40 and 65 – will also take part in memory tests, family history and lifestyle assessments and will be invited to take part in a three-year follow-up. Data gathered from the project will be made available to the global science community using data-sharing platform known as the Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN).
Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide, with Alzheimer’s disease the most common cause. There are 9.9 million new cases diagnosed globally each year. Although dementia is usually associated with old age, changes in the brain that lead to dementia can occur decades before symptoms appear. Understanding these changes are key to developing ways to intervene before irreversible damage has been done.
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.
Modelling and understanding early changes in Alzheimer’s disease is key for understanding the role of the different risk factors and designing prevention trials. The TriBEKa Consortium will become a key source of information to give those answers.