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BRAIN MOT FOR THE OVER 55s KEY TO AVOIDING ALZHEIMERS

Top neuroscience research centre says brain tests should be available to all - before qualifying for the bus pass

Memory tests should be introduced for everyone over the age of 55, in a bid to identify whether they are at risk of succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease.

According to leading psychiatrist and international expert on memory, Professor Tonmoy Sharma, the problem with Alzheimer’s is that by the time it is diagnosed it is almost too late. Damage to the brain has already been done and most of the drugs available at present simply slow down the progress of the disease for 1-2 years.

Prof. Sharma heads the Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre (CNRC) in Dartford, which currently carries out studies on a specific type of memory loss called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Researchers have identified this as an alarm bell for the likely onset of Alzheimer’s disease years later

People affected by MCI may have good thinking and reasoning skills, but their short-term memory is particularly bad. This kind of memory loss is different from that associated with normal ageing.

In a week where new brain research is at the top of the international agenda - Brain Awareness Week * (15 – 21 March), Prof Sharma says: “a memory check for the public over the age of 55 is as important as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checks. It means people can take an active role in preserving their brain function.” CNRC uses state of the art software on a customised desktop and touch-screen to carry out these tests. Prof. Sharma hopes to see this kind of system – the Cogtest System - in GP practises country-wide in the near future.

“Knowing that you have a problem is the first step towards prevention. Drugs to stave off age-induced memory impairment are on the horizon. A number of these drugs are currently in clinical trials,” adds Sharma.

Ends

Press enquiries:

Linda Berkowitz, CNRC direct line: 01322 62 65 32 mobile: 07990 927 910
Sanchayita Goswami, CNRC direct line: 01322 62 03 32 mobile: 07900 673 340
· Prof. Sharma available for comment
· Picture attached - more available

EDITOR’S NOTES

* About Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week is an international effort organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to advance public awareness about the progress, promise, and benefits of brain research. The Dana Alliance is joined in the campaign by partners around the world, including medical and research organizations; patient advocacy groups; the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies; service groups; hospitals and universities; schools; and professional organizations.

About Professor Tonmoy Sharma

One of the leading researchers in Europe on psychosis and cognition, he is Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre (CNRC) in Dartford, UK. As Head of Development and Chief Executive of Cogtest plc, he leads an international team in the development of the Cogtest system, a state of the art software system that measures brain function. (www.cogtest.com.) He is a leading researcher in brain function using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and has undertaken ground-breaking research, showing that by early examination of the brains of people with certain symptoms, we can identify and treat severe illnesses like schizophrenia at an earlier stage This means a better future for those who suffer such debilitating illnesses.


About the Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre
The CNRC’s mission is to help improve the lives of people with mental illnesses. The centre is dedicated to innovative research into more accurate diagnoses of, and more effective treatments for, a range of conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), anxiety and sleep disorders. The CNRC provides a variety of important services related to the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. These services use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and the latest treatment options. These include: The Memory Clinic. It uses state of the art diagnostics to test memory problems and advises participants on programmes of treatment. The memory clinic is free to members of the public over the age of 55 who have concerns about their memory. Those diagnosed with MCI or other memory problems will have counselling and may be offered the opportunity to join a trial.

About Alzheimer’s Disease

It is estimated that 18 million people the world over have dementia. The figure is set to rise to 34 million by 2025. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Early diagnosis of the condition and the search for better treatments is now crucial, with an ageing population and the cost of the disease to sufferers, their families and the economy.