By gathering detailed health information from 500 individuals, researchers hope to gain unique insights in to the earliest stages of dementia. Work like this is vital to discover treatments for this condition.

Why is this work needed?

Although dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK, its causes are still poorly understood. We know little about the early stages of the diseases which cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and there are currently no treatments for the condition.

What is happening?

The MRC National Survey of Health and Development tracked 5,362 people from birth in 1946, and 2,800 remain under active follow-up. It is the UK’s longest running from-birth study. 500 of these participants are now volunteering to take part in this study. The volunteers have been providing detailed medical information to researchers their whole lives and they will now add to this by providing extra data from brain scans, biological samples and memory assessments.

What are the benefits?

Researchers hope to use the data they are gathering to understand the earliest changes that occur in the development of dementia-causing diseases. This kind of information will be crucial to the earlier diagnosis of dementia, more effective prevention and, eventually, the discovery of effective treatments.

What type of data is involved?

Volunteers undergo brain imaging, memory and thinking assessments and provide blood, urine and DNA samples.

All participants consent to be involved.

Who is funding and collaborating on this work?

This research is based at University College London (UCL) and involves participants from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development. It is funded by the MRC Dementias Platform UK, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, and the Wolfson Foundation.

Where can I go for more information?

Landmark 69-year study to provide window into dementia

Using health information to help with early detection: Alzheimer’s Research UK

MRC National Survey of Health and Development