08:07am Tuesday 10 December 2019

Science searches for signs of dementias

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 Professor Alejandro Frangi
Professor Paul Ince
Dr Zeike Taylor
Professor Iain Wilkinson
Professor Annalena Venneri
The University of
Professor Geoffrey Parker
Cardiff University Professor Derek Jones
University of Sheffield 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 Professor Emmanuel Ifeachor
Professor Genhua Pan
Dr Shakil Ahmed Awan
Dr Camille Carroll
Swansea University Dr Owen Guy
Dr Daniele Doneddu
Multi-modal retinal biomarkers for vascular dementia: developing enabling image analysis tools (EP/M005976/1) University of Dundee Professor Emanuele Trucco
Professor Stephen McKenna
Dr Alexander Doney
University of Edinburgh Professor Joanna Wardlaw
Professor Ian Deary
Professor Baljean Dhillon
Dr Thomas MacGillivray
Dr Fergus Neil Doubal
A device to detect and measure the progression of dementia by quantifying the interactions between neuronal and cardiovascular oscillations (EP/M006298/1) Lancaster University Professor Aneta Stefanovska
Professor Pete Vaughan Elsmere McClintock
University of Cambridge Dr Peter Kirkpatrick
MODEM – Monitoring Of Dementia using Eye Movements (EP/M006255/1) Lancaster University Professor Pete Sawyer
Professor Hans Gellersen
Dr Kwang In Kim
Dr Trevor Crawford
The University of
Dr Iracema Leroi

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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