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Southampton scientists to lead pioneering dementia research
Southampton scientists will led a pioneering new study that will investigate the role stress plays on the progression of dementia.
Professor Clive Holmes and his team at the University of Southampton will monitor 140 people aged over 50 to see what affect stress had on those suffering from mild cognitive impairment during an 18-month period.
The volunteers will be assessed for levels of stress and any progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease.
Mild cognitive impairment is a relatively recent term used to describe people who have problems with their memory but do not actually have dementia. However around 60 per cent of those with mild cognitive impairment are known to go on to develop Alzheimer's.
Prof Holmes said: “All of us go through stressful events. We are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's.
“Something such as bereavement or a traumatic experience - possibly even moving home - is also a potential factor.
“This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments to fight the disease.
“We are looking at two aspects of stress relief - physical and psychological - and the body's response to that experience.”
The study is part of a £1.5m package of six grants being funded by the Alzheimer's Society to find the cause of the disease, a cure and a way to prevent it.
Anne Corbett, Alzheimer's Society research manager, said: “We feel this is a really important area of research that needs more attention. The results could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition.
“It will also be valuable to understand how different ways of coping with stressful life events could influence the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.”