Year of selection 2012
Institution Public Health Institute (Inserm)
Dementia is a loss of global cognitive ability that is severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living. It can affect various cognitive functions including memory, attention, language and logic. “Considering the aging population worldwide, dementia constitutes a major public health concern”, states Prof. Pierre-Marie Preux. Both developed and developing countries are affected; however, few studies have been carried out in Africa.
In the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo, Preux seeks to estimate the prevalence of dementia and its related syndromes and cognitive disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). Preux also seeks to evaluate the risk factors associated with dementia (e.g., increasing age, hypertension, depressive symptoms, nutritional factors and lack of a primary education) and to determine whether genetic variations modify the risk of dementia in African populations.
This is a transdisciplinary project that involves epidemiology (identifying the risk and protective factors, medical surveys, screening the markers of dementia), genetics (analyzing blood samples) and anthropology (observing the autonomy of the elderly, interviews, and studying how dementia is perceived by the surrounding people).
Preux will compare the situation in rural and in urban areas in order to identify the specific risk or lifestyle factors involved in dementia. “Understanding what causes the differences between dementia in developed and developing countries is a major challenge. However, it could enable us to determine new risk or protective factors as well as the history of these disorders and therefore help us establish appropriate strategies for care and control worldwide,” explains Preux.
This transdisciplinary study (epidemiology, neurology, genetics and anthropology) will contribute to developing new hypotheses for the prevention of dementia. It could therefore be useful for informing policy makers and the general population—a perfect example of protection through research!
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