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Health and Social Care students learn about dementia research from Windsor Research Unit

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Naomi Thomas and Julie Philips

Dementia is a devastating illness both for the patient and for friends and family, who have to watch their loved ones gradually losing touch with their thoughts, memories and selves.

The Windsor Research Unit is based at Fulbourn Hospital, and is part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and the Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disease Research Network. It carries out clinical trials to assess the efficacy and safety of drugs on patients and supports high-quality ethically-approved clinical research studies in dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions. The Unit works with the CPFT Adult Mental Health Research Team and Research and Development department, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the Cambridge Clinical Research Facility, the Wolfson Brain Institute and the University of Cambridge.

Louise Morfill

Our Health & Social Care students were therefore very lucky to be able to meet two of the Windsor researchers, Naomi Thomas and Julie Philips, when they visited the College this week. Health and Social Care 180-credit student Louise Morfill says:

“They talked about how they work with dementia patients to improve their quality of life. As well as drug trials, they are researching the impact of living with dementia: for example a three- year study is underway into what living well with dementia means.

“We study dementia and related illness as part of our course. I’m in Year 1, but I know that the Year 2 students will be finding out next week how to become Dementia Friends.”

Some of research projects currently underway include investigations into :

  • whether drugs currently used to treat diabetics have a positive effect on early-stage Alzheimer’s
  • whether a specific antibiotic is also effective in early-stage Alzheimer’s
  • whether specific new drugs can help mild to moderate dementia sufferers
  • ways in which inflammation in the brain can lead to disorders such as dementia and depression
  • whether specific genes contribute to early-onset dementia
  • how people with memory loss can continue to live well
  • whether cognitive training using hand-held devices can help those with mild impairment
  • whether assistive technologies can enable people to live in their own homes for longer

In addition, the team aims to collect a pool of donated brain tissue, both from sufferers of dementia and those who are healthy. This will enable them to track the progress of the disease in sufferers and make comparisons with those who are unimpaired.

Links:

Windsor Research Unit

Dementia Friends

The CPFT runs events about its research work approximately once a year. These are open to the public, so keep an eye on their website:

CPFT

Main photo of brain degradation in Alzheimer’s Disease from Wikipedia and in the public domain