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DARTFORD CENTRE IN ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH

For Immediate Release

22 September 2003 – World Alzheimer’s Day


Dartford, UK. Why take a memory test? 20 years ago a free mammogram for women over the age of 40 would have gone down like a lead balloon. Thanks to medical research, the public now knows that early detection of breast cancer means more effective treatment which may even result in total recovery. Scientists believe that in the not-too-distant future early detection of memory loss may lead to timely intervention into Alzheimer’s disease.

The Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre (CNRC) in Dartford is carrying out studies on a specific type of memory loss as an alarm bell for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease years later.

Recently, researchers have identified a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). They use this to describe the difference between normal ageing and very early memory impairment. People with MCI have good thinking and reasoning skills, but their short-term memory declines. Because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s the study of MCI is key in identifying people at the earliest stages of impairment. Researchers at the CNRC are testing specific drugs to see if they can improve memory and prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Professor Tonmoy Sharma, a leading psychiatrist and international expert on memory who is the Centre’s Director explains: “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, so that most of the drugs available at present are simply palliative.“ This is why the staff at the CNRC are deeply committed to research into early detection and treatment.

Members of the public are being offered an opportunity to take part in the research and the Centre is currently offering free memory assessments for people over the age of 55.


NOTES TO EDITORS

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.

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. Current CNRC research projects include studies on memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and treatments for schizophrenia.

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 uses state of the art diagnostics to test memory problems and provides participants with treatment programmes

· Second Opinion Clinic aimed at medical practitioners. It provides expert psychiatric second-opinions on patients who are treatment-resistant, or who fail to reach a stable or functional level.

· “DARTS” ( Dartford Recognition and Treatment Service) is an early intervention programme at the CNRC. Young people who are displaying the worrying signs of early psychosis will be assessed as well as receive therapy, counselling and treatment recommendations.

The CNRC is located at
7 Twisleton Court, Priory Hill
Dartford, Kent DA1 2EN
Tel +44 (0) 1322 286682
www.psychmed.org.uk


FOR FREE MEMORY TESTS THE PUBLIC ARE INVITED TO TELEPHONE OUR CENTRE

Photograph/ Pictures available on request

For more information, contact:
Linda Berkowitz, Communications Manager
l.berkowitz@psychmed.org.uk
Tel: 01322 286 862
Mob: 07990 927 910