Aston University receives funding boost from leading dementia research charity

21 May 2018

Researchers from Aston University in Birmingham have received £50,000 for pioneering dementia research. The announcement comes during Dementia Action Week, a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of dementia and encouraging people to join efforts to help those affected by the condition.

Everything we think, say feel and do is the result of messages being sent through complex networks of nerve cells in the brain. Diseases like Alzheimer’s cause damage to these nerve cells, interfering with different aspects of brain function. There are billions of nerve cells in the brain and they work alongside billions of other cells that provide them with support, insulation and protection.

Scientists don’t yet fully understand how these different types of cells communicate with each other or how this communication changes in diseases like Alzheimer’s. Recent research suggests that the cells might interact by releasing pouch-like vesicles that shuttle cargo to other cells in the brain. Current evidence indicates that these vesicles could play a role in both protecting and damaging cells in the brain, and Prof Andrew Devitt at Aston University is leading work to better understand these processes.

The new funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK will provide cutting-edge lab equipment that will allow Prof Devitt to zero in on these vesicles, study how they function, and see how they change in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Prof Andrew Devitt, who will lead the research from Aston University, said:

“Learning more about how cells in the brain work together is a crucial step towards understanding how damage begins and spreads in dementia. This new equipment will allow us to examine the molecular detail of vesicles released by different types of brain cell and piece together how they might be involved in the damaging processes that cause dementia.”

“There is a desperate need for new ways to diagnose and treat people with dementia. Revealing the molecular changes to vesicles in diseases like Alzheimer’s could present new opportunities for biological tests for these diseases and highlight targets for future drugs.”

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with over 9,000 people in Birmingham alone. Funding pioneering research like this in the region offers real hope in the fight against dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK receives no government funding for the research we support, and it is only thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to fund vital dementia research across the UK.”

“Anyone who would like to take action to support dementia research by volunteering to take part in research studies, can find out more by calling Alzheimer’s Research UK on 0300 111 5 111 or by visiting