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Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer's

04 February 2009

Sir Terry Pratchett visited The Institute of Psychiatry at King's, in his special two part documentary, 'Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer's. It was screened on BBC2 on two consecutive nights on 4th and 5th of February.

Bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett has early-onset Alzheimer's which he is determined to tackle head on.  In a two-part series Sir Terry confronts his uncertain future and the camera follows his progress as he explores cutting-edge science, alternative treatments and meets other Alzheimer's sufferers.  Determined to prevent it if he possibly can, Sir Terry takes a personal journey through the science and the reality of what it's like to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's and what hope there is for a cure.

During the filming, Sir Terry visited the Institute of Psychiatry at King's in a quest to find out the latest scientific research into Alzheimer's disease.  He was shown round by Simon Lovestone, Professor Old Age Psychiatry and Director NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health and visited the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, the Brain Bank, the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre laboratories and given a crash course in the vital role that fruit flies play in research. 

Professor Lovestone said 'Sir Terry has shown immense courage in the making of this programme and we were delighted to have the opportunity to show him our pioneering research into Alzheimer's disease.  We are grateful to him for highlighting the importance of continued research in this area, particularly in light of the Government's National Dementia Strategy published yesterday outlining measures to deal with the escalation of this devastating illness. Many of our team are fans of his work and they were thrilled to meet a potential recipient of the benefits of their research."'

Professor Lovestone is a leading expert in Alzheimer's disease research and Chair of the Scientific Committee for the charity Alzhiemer's Research Trust.  As Director for the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust/Institute of Psychiatry at King's NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health he is at the forefront of translational research into Alzheimer's disease.  Translational research is patient-based research where basic science is shaped into new treatments or diagnostic tests and means that patients and clinicians benefit sooner from scientific discoveries.

Part of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre's work is to urgently find a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease.  A biomarker is a test which can improve prevention, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment.  Professor Lovestone's research has made advances in blood-based biomarkers and continues to search for biomarkers using leading-edge translational research tools such as proteomics, which can identify complex data in multiple samples at a much greater speed than previously possible.  The team is aiming to find biomarkers that might be used in clinical trials and in clinical practice.

The BRC for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London is one of 12 national biomedical research centres funded by the UK's Department of Health through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  It is distinguished as a leader in scientific translation and the only biomedical research centre in the UK to specialise in mental health.  Its purpose is to accelerate the translation of fundamental biomedical research into clinical practice to benefit patients.

'Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer's' is screened on BBC 2 at 9pm on Wednesday 4th and Wednesday 11th February 2009.  It is part of BBC Headroom - the BBC's two-year mental health and wellbeing initiative aiming to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and de-stigmatise mental health issues.

Further infomation on the NIHR Biomdical Research Centre or Mental Health: 

Further information on the Institute of Psychiatry/King's College London Proteomics Facility:



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