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Hong Kong public invited to take part in pioneering dementia research.

Hong Kong residents invited to study to maintain healthy brain

People in Hong Kong aged 50 and over are being invited to join a ground-breaking online study called PROTECT, to help learn how they can maintain a healthy brain in later life.

Scientists know that improving lifestyle factors from mid-life onwards can reduce people’s risk of dementia by a third – but as yet little is known about what combination of actions really prove to be lasting and effective.

Now, the University of Exeter, who are leading PROTECT, are partnering with Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), for the first in a series of international roll-outs of Exeter’s innovative and large-scale PROTECT programme.

Already, more than 25,000 people have signed up to the UK version of PROTECT. Researchers are now offering people in Hong Kong the opportunity to take part, free of charge, to help test the latest emerging evidence on how to maintain a sharper brain. The study is conducted online, so interested people will be able to participate from the comfort of their own homes.

Clive Ballard, Professor of Age-Related Diseases and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “We’re delighted to launch PROTECT in Hong Kong, as the first phase of our international expansion. We know that people are living longer worldwide, and we need large-scale research to be able to support them to stay mentally healthy. This trial is a simple option for those involved to find out what really works for them, and for researchers to be able to conduct large-scale trials that will have a real impact on maintaining brain health worldwide.”

Professor Linda Lam, Director of the Dementia Research Unit at the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said many people are puzzled about whether dementia is an inevitable part of ageing.

She said: “Hong Kong sees a rapidly aging population. Awareness of dementia becomes increasingly significant to the well-being of the whole society.  It is important that individuals are informed of factors that promote successful and healthy ageing, and are able to take care of their own health to minimize the risks of decline. PROTECT provides a cutting-edge platform that will help us learn much more about this, so that we can help formulate meaningful action plans to support people in staying sharp in older age. I’d encourage people to sign up, both for their own benefit, and to make a real difference to global research on this crucial topic.”

The large numbers of people involved in PROTECT enable world-leading researchers to conduct a series of trials simultaneously. They can test lifestyle factors that research suggests could help maintain brain health, such as diet, exercise, genetics (via postal swabs), vitamins and food supplements, and brain training – all without the need for participants to visit a clinic.

Integral to the trial is a battery of cognitive tests measuring aspects of brain function, including memory, attention and reasoning.

The collaboration between CUHK and Exeter is part of a commitment to strengthen cooperation between the two institutions.

The University of Exeter is a world leader in dementia research and is working to improve the lives of older people through discovering the causes of dementia, reducing risk, identifying new treatments and improving care and quality of life.

PROTECT was launched in Hong Kong yesterday, November 13th, at a University of Exeter and Brain Health Initiative (BHI) “Global Conversation” event, asking: “Can We Prevent dementia?”

Follow the launch on #PROTECTHK

View our animation on PROTECT:

To find out more about dementia research at Exeter, visit:

Date: 14 November 2017