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Lancashire team lead the way in dementia research - Dr Salman Karim

Posted on the 22nd May 2014

Dr Salman Karim, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, is leading the team of clinical researchers whose focus is on the cause, care, cure and prevention of dementia. The team are collaborating to conduct a study which investigates the biological makeup of people with dementia to see if there are any new tests that can be developed to diagnose the disease at an early stage.

Dr Karim said:

“We are seeing a rise in dementia diagnoses and with the average life expectancy increasing, there has never been a more important time to conduct research options to help with care, treatment and support. We hope to be able to make life easier for those living with dementia but also for their family and friends. Since the government announced their Dementia Pledge in 2012, the research community have seen an increase in resources available for ways to improve care and treatment for people with dementia. This includes not only with medical advances but also effects of exercise on dementia and improving support and quality of life for patients and their loved ones.

“Unfortunately, for more than a decade, we have not seen new medications for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease however we hope that through our collaborative research we can identify earlier ways to detect, and conduct trials of new medications that could result in better outcomes for people with dementia”.

The team has been working in partnership with the Dendron, a dementia research NHS network for a number of years and has developed into a group of keen researchers collaborating with scientists within the UK and internationally to conduct dementia research. They have recently completed a multi-centred research study aimed at training relatives/carers of people with dementia to help them stay mentally active. Another research project aims to look at ways to help people with dementia stay in their homes for longer. This includes looking at technology devices that can help with everyday life such as medication aids, a locater device to help with items that get lost and safety devices that monitor the home environment for floods, gas and even monitoring for people leaving the home at unsafe times.

Dr Karim’s team are also participating in a number of international clinical trials aiming at developing new medications that could either be used along with the currently available medications or on their own to potentially slow down the process and improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s dementia.

The prime minister’s dementia challenge has raised the profile of dementia awareness and research. It has focused on the importance of conducting research in all aspects of dementia including nursing home residents which is an understudied area. The dementia research team has been trying to build partnerships with nursing homes and now there are a number of nursing homes in Lancashire that have signed up to participate in future research projects.

Dementia Awareness Week runs from 18-24 May and is led by the Alzheimer’s Society. The theme of this year’s week is ‘Don’t bottle it up’ and encourages people to talk about dementia, especially if they are concerned for themselves or a loved one who may be developing any signs or symptoms. They have a range of resources available on their website which people can access by visiting www.alzheimers.org.uk

People interested in participating in research or knowing more about the studies being conducted can contact the research team on 01254 226981 or email Rachel.A.Brown@lancahsirecare.nhs.uk and a member of the team will be happy to discuss this with you.