Research Projects

Can boosting chemical messaging in the brain help people with early-stage dementia with Lewy bodies?

Awarded to:
Prof John Paul Taylor

Current award:

Newcastle University

1 September 2022 - 30 June 2024

Full project name:

Cholinergic ResponsE in Early lewy body Disease (CREED) study






Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the third most common form of dementia and people often experience problems with thinking, hallucinations and mobility difficulties. While there are drugs to help alleviate these symptoms, they do not work for everyone with DLB and it is unclear how these drugs affect the disease process.

Research has shown that people with DLB have lower levels of chemical ‘messengers’ called neurotransmitters in their brains. Neurotransmitters allow signals to pass between nerve cells and so are vital for the brain to perform its vital functions and process sensory information correctly.

Low neurotransmitter levels in people with DLB could contribute to symptoms like hallucinations. However, there are not many ways to accurately measure neurotransmitter levels in the brain to determine if this is the case.

Prof John Paul Taylor at Newcastle University will monitor how neurotransmitter levels in people with early-stage DLB change in response to a drug called Donepezil. The drug is designed to boost neurotransmitter levels and alleviate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but it also often prescribed to people with DLB.

Using brain imaging and wearable sensor technology, Prof Taylor hopes to demonstrate new ways to accurately track neurotransmitter levels in the brains of people with early-stage DLB.

This research will make it easier for researchers to understand why some drugs targeting DLB symptoms work well for some people but not for others. Understanding how these drugs affect the brain in different people will help pave the way for more effective DLB treatments in the future.

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Dementia is one of the world’s greatest challenges. It steals lives and leaves millions heartbroken. But we can change the future.