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Systematic reviews of preclinical research in dementia: people and processes, Evidence Synthesis & Modelling for Health Improvement, Institute of Health Research, College of Medicine and Health


Project Description

Project description:
New treatments are urgently needed to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Despite huge financial investment in drug discovery programmes there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and treatment options are poor. Although, numerous potential treatments have been developed and tested in animal models, few progress to clinical trials and headlines such as ‘Disappointment as major dementia drug trial fails’ are commonplace. One of the major challenges to the successful development of therapies has been the poor translation of promising findings in preclinical animal studies to clinical benefit in human trials.

This PhD will use an exemplar review to address the following research questions:
1. What are the factors that may enhance, or hinder the use of existing knowledge in improving the conduct and reporting of preclinical dementia research?
2. How can we best involve patients and the public in the conduct and dissemination of systematic reviews of preclinical research?
The exemplar review will address the following research questions:
In the literature describing the testing of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mouse models -
 What is the impact of study design on the reported efficacy of treatments?
 What is the prevalence of factors known to increase the risk of bias?
 Have there been improvements in the conduct and reporting of studies testing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mouse models over the last 10 years?
 Is there evidence of publication bias?

The objectives of this PhD are:
 To systematically identify, assess and summarise all the publically available data from experiments that test treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mouse models,
 To examine the prevalence of factors known to increase the risk of bias,
 To examine the relationship between study design, choice of transgenic mouse model and outcome,
 To examine the presence and impact of publication bias,
 To involve members of the public and carers of people with dementia throughout the review process and to explore their views, experiences and perceptions of the process,
 To explore the attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of key stakeholders of the factors that may enhance or hinder the use of existing knowledge in improving research methods and reporting.

This PhD will involve the following methodological stages:
- Assembling a patient and public involvement group,
- Conducting a systematic review of studies testing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mouse models,
- Recording the experiences of involvement throughout the review process using qualitative research methods. Methods will be agreed with the group and may involve in-depth interviews, tape-recorded meetings and internet based diaries,
- Working with the patient and public involvement group to develop and implement a dissemination strategy for the findings,
- Exploring attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of key stakeholders (preclinical researchers, representatives from pharmaceutical companies, funding bodies) of the factors that may enhance or hinder the use of existing knowledge in improving future research methods and reporting, using semi-structured interviews.


Read more at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=3594#CQ5u6YhU3mMISUaV.99

Funding Notes

This project is self funded. Information about Exeter's current fees can be found here: View Website.

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