University of Edinburgh researchers join major international dementia team

University of Edinburgh researchers join major international dementia team


Monday, 17 July, 2017

University of Edinburgh researchers, led by Prof. Craig Ritchie (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences), have joined forces to form a major brain imaging project - the TriBEKa consortium - looking at the first factors that determine risk of dementia. This project was launched on 14 July 2017  at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. The Centre for Dementia Prevention (CDP) at the University of Edinburgh is one of the three main strands that form the TriBEKa consortium – a collaboration between three world leading academic and research centres for dementia prevention.

The TriBEKa (Tri Barcelona, Edinburgh and Karolinska) Imaging Platform builds upon large scale projects led by the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Dementia Prevention in the UK, the Barcelona βeta Brain Research Center in Spain and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. The imaging platform will be closely linked with the flagship studies in each centre: PREVENT Dementia (Edinburgh), ALFA study (Barcelona), and FINGER (Karolinska). The consortium have secured £1.9m from the Alzheimer’s Association (USA) and an anonymous international charitable foundation.

The TriBEKa consortium has been set up to understand the specific brain changes that take place during the middle age of an individual’s life course, in order to develop ways to intervene before irreversible damage has been done. Researchers will use  positron emission tomography (PET - a brain scanning technique) to detect harmful build-up of chemicals associated with dementia. Brain structure will be measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Participants in the study – aged between 40 and 65 – will also take part in memory tests, family history and lifestyle assessments and will be invited to take part in a three-year follow-up.

Data gathered from the project will be made available to the global science community using data-sharing platform known as the Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN).

Professor Craig Ritchie, director of the University of Edinburgh’s centre for dementia prevention, said: “Dementia is an urgent health issue and requires forward-thinking international collaboration to defeat it. As brain changes that cause dementia happen many years before symptoms, we have an opportunity to prevent progression before people are affected. TriBEKa puts us in a unique position to understand how we might do this.”