The CHARIOT PRO study has now closed to recruitment of new volunteers in Edinburgh. With initial visits completed, the team switch their focus to welcoming all participants back for regular repeat assessments over the coming years. On reaching this milestone we take the opportunity to revisit the aims of the study, review progress achieved to date and share plans for the next phases of the research.
The Chariot Pro study team, led by Professor Craig Ritchie at the Centre for Dementia Prevention, consists of a dynamic group of research psychologists, coordinators, radiographers, nurses and doctors aiming to investigate the impact of amyloid beta protein on cognitive performance in otherwise healthy older adults over a 42 month period. The study is conducted at University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London, and is sponsored by Janssen Research & Development, LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
Amyloid and Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia
CHARIOT PRO is an ongoing study that is trying to understand the relationship between amyloid beta protein plaques found in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s disease dementia. For the individual, dementia results in a progressive and devastating loss of memory, orientation, language, and personality.
Amyloid plaques are found in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s dementia but it is unclear if this happens later in the disease, when dementia is clinically present, or if the presence of amyloid plaques predates the onset of dementia.
In the CHARIOT PRO study, psychologists assess participants aged 60-85, who are cognitively healthy without dementia, with a battery of neuropsychological tests over 3.5 years. At the end of the study it is hypothesised that those participants who are amyloid positive at the beginning of the study will have much poorer memory and thinking than those who do not have brain amyloid. This might tell us that the presence of Amyloid in a healthy brain can predict subsequent onset of Alzheimer’s dementia.
One of the most common techniques for detecting amyloid in the brain is positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. CHARIOT PRO uses this technique to identify participants at risk of developing dementia. We also use a retinal imaging technique, validated with PET imaging, in order to help develop this method as a less invasive tool for brain amyloid detection.
Recruitment and screening for the CHARIOT PRO study has now finished in Edinburgh. After two years of recruitment at the Edinburgh site, working closely with colleagues at Edinburgh Imaging Facilities, we have completed a large number of health and cognitive assessments, MRI scans, PET scans and lumbar punctures as part of screening. Since recruitment began we have been continually seeing our enrolled participants once every three months across the follow-up period, mapping their cognitive trajectories across time.
Participant feedback on the study and brain imaging has been positive. As part of a commitment to improving participant involvement and research experience, the Centre for Dementia Prevention is developing a participant involvement panel. This will further improve our processes, and will be an integral aspect of improving retention rates.
On conclusion of our follow up period, we will be addressing a number of research questions, and the results will be used to shed light on some of the predictive factors and biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease dementia. The findings will be of interest to international dementia researchers and clinicians across the globe, and will provide high quality data that may inform future study design and potential intervention strategies.
Thank you to all our wonderful CHARIOT PRO participants who have dedicated so much time and enthusiasm to the project so far.
For more information about the study, please contact the team at CHARIOT-PRO@ed.ac.uk