Neurodegenerative and Neurocognitive disorders
Neurocognitive disorders are a major global health concern. Given the current lack of disease-modifying treatments and the ageing of our population, early detection and finding ways to delay or prevent the clinical onset of neurocognitive disorders are of great importance from a clinical and public health perspective. Two of our prevalence studies, one conducted in 1995 and the other in 2005, showed that the prevalence of dementia in Hong Kong had doubled during that 10-year period. We have also succeeded in validating and testing the applicability of a wide range of cognitive screening instruments, which are now widely used throughout Hong Kong. Additionally, we have identified various risk and protective factors for neurocognitive disorders and conducted a series of randomised controlled trials of non-pharmacological interventions for improving cognitive function that have received worldwide attention.
We have also discovered genetic predisposing factors to Alzheimer’s disease as well as the clinical response to cholinesterase inhibitors in the local Chinese population. Apart from our study of Alzheimer’s disease, we have demonstrated that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is highly predictive of future synucleinopathy neurodegeneration, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Our current projects in sleep and neurodegeneration include a longitudinal cohort study of typical RBD with in-depth measures of clinical, biochemical and sleep biomarkers, along with a family cohort and national registry of RBD. Our long-term goal is to facilitate the search for biomarkers that predict the onset of neurodegeneration and to develop strategies for its prevention.