A major UK study, run by scientists at King’s College London, makes it possible for members of the public to support dementia research from the comfort of their own home.
The PROTECT Study is an online project that aims to understand what happens to our brains as we age and why people develop dementia. It is gathering valuable data on how the brain changes with age and investigating which factors in mid-life affect our risk for the disease. Certain lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking and blood pressure have been found to affect our risk of dementia, and there is increasing evidence that our genes play a role too.
Participants in PROTECT provide lifestyle information about themselves and complete online assessments to measure their abilities in areas such as memory and reasoning. By repeating these assessments each year, the PROTECT investigators will monitor how they change over the study and gather data that will help develop better approaches to prevent and treat dementia in the future. To help answer the study’s genetic questions, participants are also asked to provide a sample of their DNA through a simple at-home kit.
Prof Dag Aarsland, Chair of Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London and a Lead Investigator for the PROTECT study, says “The great thing about online projects is that you are breaking the geographical boundaries between eager participants and research departments. PROTECT is something you can simply do from home and shape around your own lifestyle. Although the tests are not demanding in nature, their future value to researchers will be indescribable.”
Who can join the PROTECT Study? You can take part in the project if:
- You are aged 50 or over.
- You live in the United Kingdom.
- You have not been diagnosed with dementia.
- You have access to a computer and the internet.
PROTECT is actively looking for people to take part and has an overall target of 50,000 participants across the UK. The study itself is due to last a period of 10 years, but participants can choose to stay involved for as little or as long as they like.
Keep updated on related research
Other than advancing dementia research, taking part in PROTECT means you would be joining a stronghold of 24,000 participants from across the UK! You would be kept updated on the project through the PROTECT newsletter, and can read up on fascinating findings from an array of scientific fields — dementia, schizophrenia, addictions, autism and more — through the King’s College London newsfeed.
You would also be the first to hear of new exciting sub-studies hosted on the PROTECT platform, and have the opportunity to take part in novel research such as the popular Brain Training programme. Although the Brain Training study has now ended, the games are still available and free to use by all PROTECT participants.
If you’ve always thought about taking part in research but felt uneasy about drug trials or the prospect of clinic visits, then this could be the study for you.
To find out more about PROTECT or to enrol in the study, please visit www.protectstudy.org.uk
Their friendly helpdesk team can be contacted via email or phone:
0207 848 8183
PROTECT is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre