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Craegmoor assists in University of Cambridge dementia research project

Kevin Wharton

An individual at a Craegmoor specialist home in Wakefield has been taking part in vital medical research being carried out by The University of Cambridge. The objective of the four year study is to understand why people with Down’s Syndrome are at risk of memory problems so that treatments can be developed that might prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kevin Wharton, 57, who lives at The Lawrence, in Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, heard about the research after a newsletter about it was sent to the home and as a result become one of the project’s volunteers.The home approached the research team about Kevin taking part and this led to him being involved in various tests and having several brain scans.

Outline and assessment

Kevin initially was visited by University research assistant Tiina Annus at The Lawrence, which is situated in Bradford Road, where she outlined the project and also answered questions that Kevin and members of staff had about the study. Tiina posed puzzles and riddles to assess Kevin’s memory and other skills while she was at the home.

Kevin then travelled to Cambridge, supported by a member of staff, where he had different types of brain scan, which have been analysed as part of the study. The research is being carried out because some people with Down’s syndrome have problems with their memory at a younger age than the general population and it is thought this could be because they have more of a chemical called Amyloid in their brains than other people.

Down's Syndrome

Professor Anthony Holland, from  the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: “Through this research, we are hoping to better understand the development of this disease among people with Down’s Syndrome and to gain information that may help with its prevention and treatment.

“The efficacy and value of our investigations relies on the involvement of people like Kevin and we are very grateful that he volunteered and was prepared to give up his time, including travelling to Cambridge, to take part in our study.”

Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease

Sarah Hughes, Managing Director of Craegmoor, said: “Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease that in its advanced stages has a devastating impact on both sufferers and their families. It is vitally important that research, such as that being undertaken by The University of Cambridge, to pinpoint its causes in different sections of the community is carried out.  Hopefully, such studies will help discover prevention strategies or treatments.”

She added: “Our staff work hard to encourage and support residents in engaging with the wider community and Kevin has taken away a real sense of pride and achievement by being involved in this important study being carried out at The University of Cambridge.”

Kevin, who was presented with a certificate  and a picture of his brain  by the University, is very proud to have taken part in the project.

The Lawrence, Wrenfield

The Lawrence is a specialist home for adults with a range of learning disabilities and aims to provide a safe and homely environment. It focuses on providing support that maximises each individual's potential, both socially and domestically, and helps them learn independent living skills.

The research is being delivered by the Cambridge Intellectual & Development Disabilities Research Group (CIDDRG) at the University of Cambridge, which was established with a grant from The Health Foundation. This research is funded by the Medical Research Council, Down’s Syndrome Association and NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.

The CIDDRG search group is part of the Section of Developmental Psychiatry in the Academic Department of Psychiatry. More information about the study is available at www.dementiainds.com

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