In the News: Blood, Brains and Bold investments

This week the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) announced a $50 million investment from Bill Gates. The investment is Gates’ first to accelerate progress toward disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. The DDF is a unique venture fund focused entirely on discovering and developing new drugs for dementia and was formed through the collaboration of leading pharmaceutical companies, the UK Department of Health and ourselves.

Our Chief Executive, Hilary Evans welcomed the fresh investment in the DDF.

“With growing investment and advancing science across the world, we are on the cusp of making significant breakthroughs for people with dementia and their families.”

The story was covered extensively by the Financial Times and countless other news outlets. Read the full news story here. To find out about Bill Gates views on the state of dementia research and how he plans to help beat dementia read his blog post here.

Researchers in the US have found a link between the sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and levels of a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Results from the tests showed that people who had more severe sleep apnoea at the start of the study had indications of more amyloid build-up in the brain, but they found no relationship between OSA and participants’ performance in memory and thinking tests. Dr Laura Phipps discussed the findings of the study on the BBC’s Today programme. Our full news release can be read here.

Dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK, as new figures reveal that for the first time, the condition is killing more people per year than heart disease. We are calling for the government to double its annual investment in dementia research to a minimum of £132m by 2022. Read our Chief Executive’s blog on ‘Why dementia doesn’t need to be the biggest killer’ here and our own reaction here.

Researchers in the US have published results from a 10-year study into the effects of brain training activities on healthy older people. Their findings suggest a potential link between reduced dementia risk and one type of brain training in older healthy adults, but the mechanisms behind this association still needs exploring. See our full reaction, including the views of our Head of Research Dr Rosa Sancho, here.

Scientists in Switzerland have investigated the way fluid is removed from around the brain. Finding a new pathway for its removal, their work may signal a paradigm shift in how scientists think about this process and could have future implications for tackling Alzheimer’s disease. Read our reaction to the study here.

A new study from researchers in the US suggests that older people whose hearts pump less blood have reduced blood flow in areas of the brain that control memory. To support its many functions, the brain receives around 15% of our blood supply! Blood flow to the brain declines as people age and previous work has suggested that a reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Find out more about the findings of the study here.

Also in the news:
22-year-old Oli Glanville will row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic with his childhood friend George Randell for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The duo, known as The Oardinary Boys, face the ultimate test of friendship with sleep deprivation and confined space pushing them to their limits. Read all about their incredible challenge here. To donate to their charities, go to their fundraising page.

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About the author

Ed Pinches

Team: Science news