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Call to help with dementia study

PUBLISHED: 11:40 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:05 03 July 2010

People in East Anglia are helping scientists to learn about dementia and diseases such as Parkinson's.

The first local people have already signed up to a study called Concert, which is investigating a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

People in East Anglia are helping scientists to learn about dementia and diseases such as Parkinson's.

The first local people have already signed up to a study called Concert, which is investigating a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease. And scientists are looking for people to take part in another study, of the effects of Alzheimer's on patients and their carers.

It is part of the work of Dendron East Anglia, which is one of seven local Dendrons (Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Networks) in the country. The local network was set up in 2006 and is based at the Julian Hospital in Norwich. Since it started it has increased the number of local people taking part in important research into dementia, Parkinson's, Huntington's disease and motor neurone disease. It has a budget of around £400,000 a year and eight staff, mainly research nurses.

The network is also working closely with the University of East Anglia to make locally designed research a reality - aided by the fact that UEA has just appointed its first senior lecturer in old age psychiatry, who is due to start work in June.

Andrew Tarbuck, consultant in old age psychiatry at Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust and clinical lead for Dendron, said: “We are now working closely with the University of East Anglia to get their studies up and running.”

Dr Tarbuck added that local patients were contributing to much-needed research. “It is vital. The amount of research going into dementia is still pretty small compar-ed with that going into cancer, and that is why the government set up Dendron.”

The Concert study is looking at whether a drug called Dimebon can help people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. Dimebon was not developed to treat Alzheimer's, but as an anti-histamine in Russia in the 1970s. Research since then has shown it may help to improve function and memory in patients with Alzheimer's. The new international study will look at the effects of Dimebon on people who are already taking the Alzheimer's drug Aricept. It is funded by the drugs company Medivation and has recruited three people locally so far. Organisers are aiming for 16 people in East Anglia, who can take part at the Julian Hospital or at Chatterton House in King's Lynn, and recruitment will run until April for the one-year study.

The other new study, Dade (Depend-ence in Alzheimer's Disease in Eng-land), looks at the impact of Alzheim-er's on other people, including the costs and burden on carers' time. Recruitment has not yet started but researchers are looking for 240 people nationally, with regional sites in Norwich, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It is funded by the drug company Elan Pharma.

Dendron is involved in a further 15 studies already running in East Anglia, many of which are looking at the effects of different drugs on Parkinson's and dementia.


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