Public Release: 

Science searches for signs of dementias

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Eight new research projects, that will explore a variety of techniques and technology aimed at improving detection and diagnosis of dementias, are to receive over £8 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) it was announced today.

The successful projects were selected following a peer review panel and were developed in response to the Sensing and Imaging for Diagnosis of Dementias (SIDD) call issued by EPSRC in December 2013.

The research will involve academics from 11 UK universities who will investigate different uses of sensing and imaging. These include:

  • monitoring changes and damage in microstructures in the brain and variations in blood flow using MRI and PET
  • developing diagnostic tools that innovatively use graphene-based biosensor technology in order to detect multiple biomarkers of dementia, simultaneously, at the point of care
  • using computational and mathematical techniques to improve the cognitive assessment of people with or at risk from dementia
  • investigating whether electroanalytical detection of changes in multiple protein markers in the blood can be used to reflect the rate of progression to Parkinson's disease and severe movement disability. This will be achieved by matching serial serum levels with detailed clinical assessments
  • monitoring eye movement patterns and looking for trends that might detect and measure disease progression
  • can the retina provide reliable biomarkers (signs) for future risk of dementia? Developing technologies based on imaging to reveal and enable such biomarkers to be used
  • developing a device to simultaneously analyse both electrical signals from the brain and cardiovascular signal (blood flow/oxygenation) in order to understand the feasibility of these as a diagnostic tool

Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman said; "Britain is already a world leader in clinical research and it's right that we are harnessing this expertise to help tackle one of the biggest health challenges of our time; dementia. This investment will lead to improved detection and diagnosis of dementia and ultimately deliver better care for patients."

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, says: "The UK faces a huge challenge over the coming decades, we have an aging population and a likely rise in the numbers of people suffering from dementias. These research projects will improve our abilities to detect and understand dementias and how the disease progresses.

"The development of new healthcare technologies and improved clinical care are being made possible by advances in engineering, physical sciences and mathematics and we must continue to support these fields to improve the quality of life of our population."

Project Title
EPSRC grant number
Universities
lead university first
Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators
OCEAN: One-stop-shop microstructure-sensitive perfusion/diffusion MRI: Application to vascular cognitive impairment
EP/M006328/1
University of Sheffield The University of Manchester Cardiff University University of Sheffield Professor Alejandro Frangi Professor Paul Ince Dr Zeike Taylor Professor Iain Wilkinson Professor Annalena Venneri Professor Geoffrey Parker Professor Derek Jones Dr Robin Highley Dr Aneurin Kennerley Dr Leandro Beltrachini
Computational PLatform for Assessment of Cognition In Dementia (C-PLACID)
EP/M006093/1
University College London Dr Sebastian Crutch Professor Nick Fox Professor Daniel Alexander Professor Massimiliano Pontil Professor Mel Slater Professor Anthony Steed Professor Stephen Hailes Professor John Shawe-Taylor Dr Duncan Brumby Dr Anna Cox
Multimarker Parkinson's Diagnotic test kit for monitoring disease progression based on electroanalytical detection of protein changes in blood.
EP/M006204/1
University of Oxford Dr Jason Davis Dr George Tofaris
Quantification of vascular and neuronal pathology in dementia using PET and MRI
EP/M005909/1
The University of Manchester Professor Geoffrey Parker Dr Laura Parkes Professor Karl Herholz Professor Alistair Burns Dr Herve Boutin Dr Julian Matthews Professor Stephen Williams Dr Marie-Claude Asselin
Novel Point-of-Care Diagnostic Techniques for Dementia
EP/M006301/1
University of Plymouth Swansea University Professor Emmanuel Ifeachor Professor Genhua Pan Dr Shakil Ahmed Awan Dr Camille Carroll Dr Owen Guy Dr Daniele Doneddu
Multi-modal retinal biomarkers for vascular dementia: developing enabling image analysis tools
EP/M005976/1
University of Dundee University of Edinburgh University of Dundee Professor Emanuele Trucco Professor Stephen McKenna Professor Joanna Wardlaw Professor Ian Deary Professor Baljean Dhillon Dr Thomas MacGillivray Dr Fergus Neil Doubal Dr Alexander Doney
A device to detect and measure the progression of dementia by quantifying the interactions between neuronal and cardiovascular oscillations
EP/M006298/1
Lancaster University University of Cambridge Professor Aneta Stefanovska Professor Pete Vaughan Elsmere McClintock Dr Peter Kirkpatrick
MODEM - Monitoring Of Dementia using Eye Movements
EP/M006255/1
Lancaster University The University of Manchester Professor Pete Sawyer Professor Hans Gellersen Dr Kwang In Kim Dr Trevor Crawford Dr Iracema Leroi

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For further press information please contact the EPSRC press office:

01793 444 404 or email pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk

Notes for Editors

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

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