Pioneering research in Bristol gets funding boost from leading dementia charity

Posted on 22nd May 2018

Researchers from the University of Bristol have received a £240,000 funding boost for pioneering dementia research in the city. The announcement of the new funding for projects comes during Dementia Action Week, a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of dementia and encouraging people to get involved in efforts to help people living with the condition.

Dementia touches the lives of one in three people in the UK and there are currently no treatments that can stop or slow the progression of the diseases that cause dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is the leading research charity working to better understand dementia and find new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat the condition.

The major new investment includes funding for important equipment that will support the South West Dementia Brain Bank, a vital resource that is helping researchers in the region reveal more about the complex causes of dementia. Over its 30 years of operation, the brain bank has received over 1,070 donations from people who chose to donate their brains to dementia research.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has awarded over £40,000 to support new equipment that will help researchers preserve brain tissue and prepare samples for analysis in the lab. Brain tissue samples are crucial for researchers working to further our understanding of the processes involved in diseases like Alzheimer’s and for identifying biological targets for future drugs.

Researchers from the University have also been awarded funding to investigate a link between hormonal processes and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Scott Miners aims to understand how changes to a hormonal system involved in regulating blood pressure are related to the build-up of hallmark Alzheimer’s proteins in the brains of people who died with the disease.

Dr Scott Miners, who was awarded the funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“We know that changes in the blood supply to the brain often go hand in hand with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and my research will explore an important facet of this link. Previous lab research has shown that a hormonal system which helps to control blood pressure within the body, becomes overactive in Alzheimer’s disease. My team will look for evidence of these changes in the brains of people who died with the disease.

“Importantly, there are already drugs that target this hormonal system to treat patients with high blood pressure. By studying brain tissue of people who died with Alzheimer’s, we will be able to see at which point in the disease this system starts to go awry. This research could help to highlight a window of opportunity in which these drugs might be able to help slow the development of Alzheimer’s in the brain.”

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

“There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including 87,000 people in the South West, and as we are all living longer, this number is set to rise. While age is a big risk factor for dementia, it is not a normal part of ageing. Dementia is the result of physical changes to the brain caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s. Understanding the complex process that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease is crucial in the hunt for new treatments.

“We are delighted to support these pioneering research projects in Bristol. 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.

“There are a wide range of dementia studies underway in the South West and many of them rely on members of the public participating in research. From taking part in memory tests or filling out questionnaires, to providing blood samples or having a brain scan, there are many different ways people with and without dementia can get involved in research. Anyone who would like to take action to support dementia research by volunteering to take part in a study can find out more by calling Alzheimer’s Research UK on 0300 111 5 111 or by visiting www.joindementiaresearch.org

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