Chariots of Fire

Alzheimer’s Research UK is proud to be the official charity partner of Chariots of Fire 2017.

Chariots of Fire is one of Cambridgeshire’s largest annual charity events. Teams of six each run a 1.7-mile course in relay format through the streets of the city of Cambridge, taking in Trinity, Kings and Clare colleges.

This fantastic event will take place on Sunday 17 September. With the funds raised, we’ll be powering a pioneering brain imaging project at the University of Cambridge that will provide us with more understanding of the links between Alzheimer’s and Down’s syndrome to identify the windows of opportunity for future preventative treatments that could benefit everyone affected by Alzheimer’s.

Sign up for Chariots of Fire 2017

The project

It may come as a surprise to hear that there’s a link between dementia and Down’s syndrome. Around 50% of people with Down’s syndrome develop Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, by their 50s and there are 40-60,000 people in the UK with Down’s syndrome.

Prof Tony Holland leads a Cambridge team that has been working with people with Down’s syndrome for almost two decades to understand its link with dementia. Over the years, the team has built up good relationships with participants and their carers, receiving strong input from families and people with Down’s syndrome on their projects.

In this new project, Prof Holland’s team will use state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to track the early changes taking place in the brains of volunteers with Down’s syndrome. This includes the build-up of two hallmark Alzheimer’s proteins in the brain, which we know happens years before symptoms show.

The researchers are using techniques to highlight the levels of these proteins in the brain on PET brain scans. They can compare these brain scans with other scans that show brain structure, as well as combining this insight with information about how well their volunteers can think and remember. This vital project will allow the research team to build a picture of what happens in the brains of people with Down’s syndrome over time.

Prof Holland’s team hopes that by studying people with Down’s syndrome over two years, they will reveal when critical changes are taking place in the brain and highlight the windows of opportunity for future preventative treatments.

The findings from this study have the potential to not only shed light on a critical period in the disease for preventative treatment in people with Down’s syndrome, but will also provide insight that could benefit everyone affected by Alzheimer’s. The answer lies in research.

About us

As the UK’s leading dementia research charity, our vision is to create a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. We fund world-class research at universities and centres across the UK in order to defeat the condition.

Our funding has helped to discover over 21 risk genes for Alzheimer’s, unlocking new avenues for research. Our Cambridge scientists have pioneered cutting-edge new stem cell approaches to studying Alzheimer’s and screening new drugs, and we’re committed to funding research with the greatest potential to benefit those living with dementia and their families.

To donate to the Chariots of Fire 2017 fundraising, visit:

If you would like to volunteer to help at Chariots of Fire please complete the volunteering form below and select the “Chariots of Fire” option. If you have any questions, please email us or call the team on 0300 111 5777.