Hundreds of volunteers have offered up their help to aid in the research of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
British researchers are aiming to find out more about the early life of Alzheimer’s disease by implementing wearable technology.
Using the tech, which is known as biomarkers, they are looking to spot earlier signs of the disease, before more obvious signs become noticeable. They hope it will open up new avenues for fighting Alzheimer’s before the brain suffers serious damage.
The research which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council, is being aided by around 250 volunteers, including former university academic Peter Lindon. Lindon was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and he hopes his involvement in this latest research project will answer some difficult questions. Lindon has recently undergone a range of tests, both mental and physical, to aid researchers in identifying the biomarkers for Alzheimer’s with early diagnosis, and this is the most likely way of finding a cure or prevention measure. Lindon says:
“The importance is hard to overestimate because the question of one’s short-term memory deteriorating has many consequences,” he says.
“The major concern one is principally bothered about is how much time you’ve got when you’re likely to be competent, until the time that you are no longer competent.”
Jennifer Lawson, who is a researcher from Oxford University, has said:
“Over the last decade or more, 99% of clinical trials into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have failed.
“We think the reason for that is we are simply trying these in people far too late.
“By the time someone comes to their GP and they think they might have some memory problems and they get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, it’s likely the brain has been under attack from this illness for 10 or even 20 years before.”
A woman is undergoing what is known as a gait test in Newcastle University’s Clinical Ageing Research Unit. This research uses cheap and portable wearable technology to track how she moves, meaning it can be used as she goes about her everyday life. Professor of human movement science at Newcastle University, Lynn Rochester, says the act of walking can give us vital clues about how the brain is functioning.
“Gait, or how someone walks, isn’t on the face of it an obvious thing that we’d want to measure in this type of study.
“But we’re not headless chickens, we have to think about what we’re doing with our feet and particularly when we are walking around in the real world.
“You have to make a lot of decisions about navigation, someone might be distracting you and talking to you, you are turning and looking at obstacles in the environment, so there’s an awful lot of cognitive skills that are required to enable someone to walk safely and independently.”
Do you think this will be a big step in the right direction for Alzheimer’s research?
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