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Summer 2017
Summer flowers
Welcome to the summer newsletter
Welcome to this summer edition of the PROTECT newsletter. We hope you are all well and have managed to enjoy a beach holiday or two!
Update on the study
PROTECT is steadily approaching its 2nd year anniversary since its official media launch, and over 21,000 participants are now enrolled in the Main PROTECT study. The last two years have also seen the launch of two other exciting projects, Brain Training and our most recent study, START. We are delighted with the positive response you have shown to the studies and would like to thank you all for your continued involvement and contribution to our work.
Call to complete your annual follow-up assessments - Many of you will now have been asked to complete your one-year follow-up questionnaires, and the vast majority of you have done so. Thank you for this! To give you an idea of completion rates, nearly 70% of PROTECT participants have submitted at least one part of Cognitive Test Package 1. If you have not submitted your outstanding assessments, we ask you to do this at your earliest convenience, although it is perfectly acceptable to delay starting any of the assessments for a short time.
Brain Training open to all - With the Brain Training study soon to be ending, we would like to give special thanks to all who took part in this project. The study was a great success and we hope to start publishing our results soon. Due to the study’s high popularity, many of you were not able to participate. To show our appreciation for everything you do for PROTECT, we are happy to announce that the Brain Training games will be made available to all PROTECT study participants within the next few days, so watch this space! The games will be found in your My Studies homepage, under My Training.
Last chance to register in the START trial - In our last newsletter, we informed you of the launch of our new study, START. Although START was launched less than four months ago, over 6,000 participants have already enrolled in the project. This means that enrolment may soon be closing. If you are interested in taking part and haven’t already done so, please sign-in to your account as normal and select START study on your My Studies homepage.
Update on study withdrawal conditions – When you first registered with PROTECT, your consent and information leaflet stated that should you wish to withdraw, all data collected up until that time-point would be destroyed, unless you instructed us otherwise. For the purposes of clarity, we have updated the content of these forms to provide you with further information on what happens to your data when you withdraw. To access your information leaflet, please click here and go to ‘What will happen if I don't want to carry on with the study'.
If you have any questions about the withdrawal conditions, please contact our Helpdesk team by telephone on 0207 848 8183 or by email at
Latest news
Alzheimer's Association International Conference '17
Alzheimer's Association International Conference
This month the UK was the proud host of the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). The AAIC is the premier annual forum for presentation and discussion of the latest Alzheimer's and dementia research, bringing the world closer to breakthroughs in dementia science. The conference is the largest gathering of leading researchers and next generation investigators from around the globe, and serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia.
Our lead researchers from Exeter University and King’s College London were there to present PROTECT and the valuable data you have provided us with. Our speakers presented new PROTECT findings such as the positive relationship between online brain training and cognition in older adults, as well as supporting evidence that regular physical exercise benefits cognitive performance. The CogTrack™ System – you will recognise this as the cognitive assessment that takes you to the third party website – was introduced to a global audience and was highlighted for its reliability in assessing cognition. Our researchers also presented exciting new data about how lifestyle and medical factors such as exercise, diet and medications, influence cognition. The PROTECT findings were very well received, and were even included in radio broadcasts and press releases from newspapers such as the Evening Standard, the Times and the Daily Mail.
Key to keeping your brain young? (Clue: It's one across and has nine letters)
Exciting data collected through PROTECT has shown that doing a crossword every day could keep your brain 10 years younger.
We collected your responses on how frequently you play word puzzles, and combined them with your cognitive test scores that assess aspects of cognition such as memory, attention, reasoning and information processing. We found that those who played word puzzle games performed better – with people who completed more than one crossword a day performing the best. This data was presented at the AAIC and was very well received.
Professor Keith Wesnes, from the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Performance was consistently better in those who reported engaging in puzzles, and generally improved ­incrementally with the frequency of puzzle use. On test measures of grammatical reasoning speed and short-term memory accuracy, performing word puzzles was associated with an age-related reduction of around 10 years.”
Although we haven’t yet established whether it makes a difference when people take up word puzzles, finding a direct relationship between ‘cognitive stimulation’ and superior cognitive performance is exciting news.
Clive Ballard, Professor of Age-Related Diseases at Exeter University, said: “The next step is to assess whether encouraging people to start playing word games regularly could actually improve their brain function. We know that many of the factors involved in dementia are preventable. It is essential that we find out what lifestyle factors really make a difference to helping people maintain healthy brains to stop the soaring rise of the disease. ”
Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association, said. "We now can effectively prevent or treat heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS with combinations of drugs and lifestyle. The same may also be true for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in the not too distant future. This will only come through additional, large-scale research trials in diverse populations. "
Helpful reminders about the PROTECT study
  • It is perfectly acceptable to delay starting any of the PROTECT Main study assessments. However, once you have started the first part of either of the Cognitive Assessments, we ask you to complete the three parts within one week of each other so please begin these when this is most feasible.
  • In the unlikely event that we do detect a clinically significant drop in your performance in the study tests we will contact your GP to recommend they arrange an appointment with you to carry out further tests. Please remember however that PROTECT is a research study and does not replace NHS services, furthermore the study is not set up for the purposes of detecting dementia or any other neurodegenerative disease. Should you ever have concerns about your health, we advise that you always seek GP consultation.
  • You can change information such as your email address, your GP details, your home address or your informants’ details straight from the PROTECT website. All you need to do is sign-in to your account and go to the MANAGE ACCOUNT tab. A dropdown menu will then open; here you can select the details you would like to change.
Contact us
We are delighted with the success of the PROTECT study so far, and have a number of exciting additional studies in the pipeline for the future. We hope you will continue to be involved and take up any opportunities that are interesting to you.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the Helpdesk team if you have any queries or comments.

T: 020 7848 8183