Given the expertise within the group, some of the disease areas we are focusing on are age-related neurodegenerative & cognitive disorders, cardio-vascular risk factors and the link between these. With regard to technology, we plan to use cutting edge magnetic resonance imaging methods, novel imaging tracers and translational methods such as electronics and computing science in clinical research. In addition ACTRA takes on research in therapeutics and drug development, as well as targeted intervention strategies.
ACTRA places an emphasis on translational research which occurs at both ends of the spectrum – from translating experiments using experimental models to proof of concept human studies to using observational data to inform and develop pragmatic clinical trials. ACTRA has the following established aims.
- First, ACTRA aims to increase knowledge about novel risk factors and prognostic markers for common conditions of older age including lifestyle and diet. Recent work of ACTRA members have shown that the effect of cocoa intake on platelet function appeared gender specific.
- Second, ACTRA aims to use innovative and advanced imaging techniques to better understand the link between cardiovascular risk, neurophysiology, and imaging markers of brain structure and function, and dementia related neuropathology cognitive decline as part of vascular and Alzheimer’s dementia. For example, some of the projects will focus on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular link through neuroimaging methods such as MRI, SPECT (see figure below) and PET as well as researching the best methods of image analysis and of modelling imaging and other data.
Third, ACTRA aims to identify personalised optimal treatment targets for relevant outcomes. For example, members seek to define optimal risk management of people with cognitive decline to halt the progression of diminished cognition so as to optimize cognition in later life. The ultimate goal would be to provide clinicians with the recommendations for personalised treatment plans as current guidelines are based on trial findings which may not be necessarily applicable to real world patients.
Fourthly, ACTRA aims to undertake lifestyle, clinical and service interventions that aim to improve the health and healthcare of ageing populations. Members are currently working together to develop public health interventions to promote physical and mental-health well-being in collaboration with the NHS and community organizations.
Finally, ACTRA aims to facilitate the interaction between clinical and experimental researchers and provide training for students and staff interested in ageing-related research. Because ACTRA aims to cultivate world-leading researchers in medical and health sciences who are well-trained in ageing-related research, many members within the group are developing research projects and working to establish PhD studentships.