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Approved Research

Polygenic risk score of motoric cognitive risk syndrome for early identification of individuals at high risk of dementia.

Principal Investigator: Dr Donncha Mullin
Approved Research ID: 78753
Approval date: December 15th 2021

Lay summary

Most experts agree that the origins of dementia lie many years, even decades before people notice the symptoms. However, if examined, people often walk slower and report some thinking difficulties. Combining these two symptoms is called Motoric Cognitive Risk syndrome and measuring it forms a quick, cheap, and accurate way of predicting who will go on to develop dementia years later.

This study aims to explore the relationship between Motoric Cognitive Risk syndrome and brain health. We will calculate the rates of Motoric Cognitive Risk in this population, ascertain what makes people more likely to have it, uncover what health conditions it is associated with, what the genetic risk factors for it are, and describe what the brains of people with it look like.

By gaining more insight into all these areas of Motoric Cognitive Risk, we will have a better idea of what causes it and if these are treatable.

We do not yet know if Motoric Cognitive Risk syndrome can be attributed to someone's genes, and it is important to look at this in detail to see if there are any other areas that we could target to reduce the risk of developing dementia. We will use the UK Biobank to look at the natural variations in the code that makes up the genes of different people to see which variants are associated with Motoric Cognitive Risk. We will combine these variants to get a personalised risk score for the development of Motoric Cognitive Risk which we will then test out in over 1,000 people in a separate dataset (LBC1936). This could identify targets for treatment to ultimately contribute to fewer people living with dementia worldwide.

The expected duration is 36 months. We require the whole cohort.

There is a huge public interest in this area of dementia research. We will share our findings with a wide audience by publishing scientific articles, giving talks, and engaging with social media.

Once identified, these people can make changes to their lives and circumstances and plan for their future while they are still young and healthy. Dementia is an enormous public health issue with no effective medication treatment so preventing even a small proportion of cases will reduce much suffering and have massive savings for society.