The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has established, in Newcastle, the national Biomedical Research Centre on Ageing and Chronic Disease and the Biomedical Research Unit in Lewy Body Dementias. Both are a partnership between the University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Our BRC forms an integrated research matrix with the older person at its core and using world-class NIHR research facilities will tackle the ambitious goal of comprehensively addressing the complex health care needs of the older person, based on an advanced understanding of the ageing process and age-related disease. The work of the BRC focussed on three areas of biomedical research strength:
The disease-based themes are linked together by five mechanisms that will address the major processes underlying age-related disease and its treatment:
We are developing new tests (biomarkers) allowing the early diagnosis of age-related diseases and monitoring the effects of new treatments; and we will determine the effects of exercise and novel drug treatments in each disease area. This will enable us to achieve our over-arching aim of developing 'personalised medicine for the older patient', where the needs and aspirations of the individual drive the provision of health care aimed at improving the quality of our later years. Our research strategy is be guided by older people through an active programme of engagement.
Our BRU focusses on dementia caused by Lewy body disease. This term includes people with Parkinson’s disease who then develop dementia, as well as a disorder called dementia with Lewy bodies. Newcastle is recognised as a world-leading centre for research into these complex and disabling conditions which affect around 160,000 people in the UK and which are the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Our aim is to develop improved means of diagnosis, improve our understanding of key disease symptoms, and evaluate potential new treatments in the Lewy body dementias. These ambitious aims, guided by a policy of active public and patient engagement, are being achieved by: