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Alzheimer’s Disease Research Team

Who are we?

We are part of a collaborative research group led by Professor Julie Williams at Cardiff University. The purpose of the study is to assess people with dementia over a period of time to see how their illness develops. This will help us to search for environmental, biological and genetic factors that influence the progression of dementia.

About dementia

Dementia is an ‘umbrella term’ that describes symptoms such as memory impairments and problems with communication. There are various types of dementia such as vascular dementia, dementia with lewy-bodies, fronto-temporal dementia and the most common form, Alzheimer’s disease.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are thought to be a combination of factors such as age, environmental factors, lifestyle and genetic factors though no single cause of dementia has been identified.

The likely cause of the damage seen in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be a fault with a protein called ‘amyloid precursor protein’ that leads to the production of beta-amyloid. This is believed to cause the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that disrupt communication, metabolism and repair in neurons in the brain.

How can genetic research contribute to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease?

As technology is advancing, we are finding that there is a genetic component to most diseases. Identifying genes associated with a disease pinpoints the biological mechanisms involved in its development. The genetic component in Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be a combination of subtle changes in several genes. The department has published findings for 9 new genetic associations in Alzheimer’s disease and the first to be found since APOE in1994. The associations found overlap in three areas that have not previously been looking at in relation to the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The next step is to look at potential therapies in the new areas of association.

Who can help?

We are currently looking for:

People over 65 with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

People under 65 who have memory problems or a diagnosis of Early Onset dementia

Those with a friend or relative who is also willing to help with the research

People over 80 with no memory problems to act as a comparison group

What’s involved in taking part?

If you choose to take part two members of the research team will visit you in your home at a time convenient to you.

We will ask you to take part in an interview that lasts approximately 1 hour. One member of the team will conduct a series of memory tests while the other talks to your friend or relative about your history of memory problems.

We will also ask you to donate a small sample of blood (62mls) from which we will obtain DNA, RNA, serum and plasma.

We would like to visit you once a year to conduct a follow up interview and collect another blood sample.

You will receive updates about our research progress in an annual newsletter that we send to all our participants.

Important points

This study is strictly confidential and the information that is gained from this interview and the DNA sample would be stored in a secure database at Cardiff University. This data does not include your name or address or any other information that could identify you personally.

Contact us

If you or someone you know would like to take part in our research we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us on the details below.

AD Field Team
Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics
Cardiff University
Hadyn Ellis Building
Maindy Road
CF24 4HQ

Tel: 02920 688042