World's most in depth study to detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease launched in UK, Alzheimer's Society comment

A new study that hopes to improve the success rate of research trials for treatments in Alzheimer's disease is announced today (Monday 22 August 2016).

The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study will see the most thorough series of tests to detect Alzheimer's disease ever performed on volunteers. The study was announced by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research.

Spotting the earliest signs of dementia is an increasingly important part of finding effective treatments as it allows people to enter research trials before their condition is too advanced. In Alzheimer's disease, changes in the brain can start many years before any symptoms of dementia appear. This study will measure a large number of biological markers in people at risk of developing the disease to find ways to identify the changes as early as possible.

Many research trials require frequent visits to the clinic and some of the tests can be uncomfortable or invasive.  To check that the large number of tests being proposed in this study would be acceptable for people with dementia, Alzheimer's Society supported the researchers to conduct a pilot study with people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Based on this early work, the researchers have now been awarded over £6 million to conduct the full study in 250 UK volunteers.

Matt Murray, Engagement and Participation Manager at Alzheimer's Society said:

'This exciting research will help transform our understanding of the earliest signs and symptoms of dementia, supporting researchers to ensure that they recruit the most appropriate people for their trials.

'With help from Alzheimer's Society, people in the early stages of dementia tried out the procedures that are involved in the study and shared their experiences to ensure the trial wouldn't be daunting for others. While people were nervous about some of the tests, this try out stage successfully made them feel more comfortable recommending the study to other people. Making sure that people affected by dementia have their voices heard when studies are being designed is an essential step and gives the trial the greatest chance of success.'

'As a result, we are confident that the larger study launching today will be of the highest quality and will have a reduced risk of people dropping out.'

Further information

  • Join the dementia research network