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Scotland's National Dementia Strategy: One Year On Report

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8. Continued Action to support dementia research

8.1 The strategy continues the Scottish Government's commitment into research into the medical treatments for dementia and the delivery of care, in doing so using the experience of people with dementia and families and carers in informing this work.

8.2 The last year has seen dementia research in Scotland gaining increasing momentum. This has been aided by the continuing support by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Dementia Clinical Research Network ( SDCRN). This support has been extended to March 2012. The SDCRN now covers Health Boards from the Borders to Highland and from Ayrshire to Grampian. There are also ongoing discussions to include people from the Northern and Western isles. The number of studies adopted by the SDCRN has grown exponentially and the aim of attracting matching external funding has been met and exceeded. The SDCRN has also been pivotal in attracting commercially-sponsored multi-centre trials to Scotland.

8.3 Together with Alzheimer Scotland, the SDCRN conducted a questionnaire of what people, including a substantial number of people with dementia, considered to be the priorities for dementia research in Scotland. This will be seminal in informing the future direction of dementia research in Scotland over the next few years.

8.4 Scotland is showing leadership in developing a national research register of people with dementia and carers. The target to recruit 1,000 people to the register was comfortably surpassed. The availability of this register has been an important driver of clinical research and is now being emulated in England and Wales. The register is also a major mechanism for people with dementia and their carers becoming directly involved in research. People on the register are being contacted to take part in research specifically suited to them, and give permission for their register details to be linked with an internationally renowned state-of-the-art health informatics systems which will enable researchers in Scotland to understand far more about how people with dementia use health services.

8.5 Scotland has world-leading basic scientists, not a few of whom are engaged with dementia research. Examples include working out how stress hormones affect memory centres in the brain, which may lead on to important treatments for conditions like Alzheimer disease. Investigations into how diseases of the blood vessels can lead to memory problems are also high on the agenda.

8.6 Overall, not only do Scottish scientists remain at the forefront of dementia research, but the people of Scotland by joining the Scottish Dementia Research Interest Register and signing up to take part in studies are just important in leading the way in this key area of the strategy.