Cambridgeshire software could help dementia diagnosis

Cambridgeshire software could help dementia diagnosis Credit: ITV Anglia

A technology company in Cambridgeshire has developed software which could drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to diagnose dementia.

At the moment, it takes - on average - 18 months to be diagnosed. This new technology could reduce that to three months.

The government is funding a pilot scheme - part of which involves asking people to complete a questionnaire using an iPad.

Cambridge Cognition, based in Bottisham just outside Cambridge, has designed that test.

In the pilot scheme, GPs carry out initial memory tests using iPad-compatible software that differentiates between patients with normal and abnormal memory in ten minutes.

Those who need further investigation are then sent to a specialist brain health centre where brain scans and more detailed computer tests are carried out using a specially-designed programme.

Scientists claim that if deployed nationally, the technology will raise diagnosis rates close to David Cameron's target of 80% - a doubling of the current average.

More than 400,000 people in the UK are suffering from dementia but are denied the care and support they need because their condition is undiagnosed, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce the launch of the pilot scheme at an event later this week, according to reports.

The project has been awarded a £1.8 million grant from Biomedical Catalyst, a Government-funded programme operated by the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board.

The money will be used to test the technology at a brain health centre at The Maudsley Hospital in South London while a mobile unit will run trials in Sussex.

If successful, the diagnosis process could potentially be rolled out across the country.

Alzheimers affects one in three people over 65 years old, with current figures showing 670,000 people have dementia in England. But this number is set to double in the next 30 years.

David Cameron has pledged to double funding into dementia by 2015 and establish the UK as the world leader in dementia research.