Project may aid lives of dementia patients

A YOUNG Doncaster scientist is embarking on a revolutionary project to investigate the symptoms of dementia in the hope of improving diagnosis of the condition.

PhD student Ruth Cromarty is beginning the three-year research to unravel the symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies - the third most common cause of the condition.

The 24-year-old is conducting her project with a team at Newcastle University, where she currently studies, and will analyse results from using electrical scalp recordings to try and pinpoint what happens in the brain when people with the disease suffer fluctuations in alertness, attention and thinking.

People with this particular form of the disease can experience distressing symptoms such as hallucinations and movement problems similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Ruth, of Milton Road in Branton, said: “I’m very excited to start work on this project, which I hope will shed light on the causes of some of the symptoms associated with this disease.

“Understanding what’s happening in the brain is the first step towards finding new treatments for dementia with Lewy bodies.

“My undergraduate degree was in psychology and that sparked my interest in research into mental health.

“I wanted to focus my research on dementia because it’s of huge importance to society, yet there are still so many unanswered questions.

“Dementia can only be defeated through research, and I hope my work can contribute to that goal.”

Her team’s study has also been boosted by a £95,000 grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK charity to help fund clinical trials and the group has had support from the Wellcome Trust.

If the study is a success, the research team would then like to develop a test that could help doctors diagnose dementia with Lewy bodies better.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: “This promising project has real potential to one day improve the lives of people affected by dementia with Lewy bodies, and we’re delighted to be supporting it.”

Dr Ridley confirmed that there were more than 820,000 people in the UK who suffered from dementia.