Pavilion Health Today
Supporting healthcare professionals to deliver the best patient care

Charity donates £370k to dementia researchers in a bid to find a cure

Alzheimer’s Research UK has donated £370k to dementia researchers at the University of Exeter as part of a £3 million funding announcement to accelerate effective dementia treatments.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has donated £370k to dementia researchers at the University of Exeter as part of a £3 million funding announcement to accelerate effective dementia treatments.

The funding will go to three researchers: Prof Katie Lunnon (£152k), Prof Wendy Noble (£148k) and Dr Emma Dempster (£68k).

One study to analyse the role of the APOE gene

Prof Lunnon is supporting the ground-breaking work of PhD student Luke Weymouth. His work will help unpick exactly how certain forms of a gene called APOE can cause Alzheimer’s disease.

APOE makes a protein that keeps brain cells healthy, however a certain form of the gene known as APOE4 is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Around one in four people inherit a copy of APOE4, making them three times more likely to develop the disease. People who inherit two copies are more than eight times more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer’s.

Luke’s research will look at how the gene increases a person’s risk in hope of developing new treatment and prevention avenues. He will look at the role of epigenetics, building on research by Prof Lunnon.

“Epigenetics is one way our cells switch their genes on and off and involves adding or removing chemical tags on sections of their DNA. This process can sometimes misfire and cause diseases to develop, such as cancer.”

Prof Lunnon’s research found that the high-risk version of APOE is susceptible to having these chemical tags added to it in a way that stops it from working properly. This impacts the brain’s ability to clear away amyloid protein, causing it to build-up and damage nerve cells. Luke’s project will aim to work out if this happens in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Epigenetic changes are reversible, so if we can understand these processes, they can potentially be modified by drugs or even by changing our behaviours. This could help us design new treatments and prevention strategies for people with the APOE risk gene, which is an incredibly exciting prospect,” he said.

Support for studies which could change the lives of people living with dementia

The other funding packages will go to a study looking to develop new treatments that target a protein called tau (which builds up in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease), and a study looking at how molecular signals emerge in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This could lead to a test which could detect the disease before symptoms emerge.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Strategic Initiatives at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the charity is “delighted” to announce the funding which will find new ways to treat, detect and prevent diseases that cause dementia.

“These three projects demonstrate how we are funding research that will do exactly that. They also underline our commitment to develop the next generation of dementia researchers. By funding early career scientists, not only do we make vital scientific progress, but we also bring new talent into the dementia research field.

“We only support the very best scientific ideas with the greatest potential to change the lives of people living with dementia. Each new discovery that these projects produce paves the way for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention and ultimately for a cure,” she said.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read more ...

Privacy & Cookies Policy