Research Projects

Exploring biological pathways that could protect the brain in Alzheimer’s disease

Awarded to:
Dr Jurgen Muller

Current award:

University of Bradford

1 November 2022 - 31 October 2023

Full project name:

Enhancing neuroprotection through activation of ERK5 MAPK signalling – a proof-of-principle study






Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia affecting around 600,000 people in the UK today. The disease involves a build-up of two key proteins called amyloid and tau in and around nerve cells in the brain. This sets off a series of changes in the brain, much like a chain of falling dominoes.

Part of this involves increased inflammation in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease this typically beneficial process can cause more harm than good to our brain cells and their ability to function normally. Many molecules in the brain are involved in inflammatory processes, and by investigating these researchers hope to find a way to protect the brain cells and delay or halt these destructive processes when there is still time. This process is called neuroprotection.

What does the project aim to do?

Dr Jurgen Muller and his team are looking at a specific molecule called ERK5 which can help protect cells in a part of the brain that controls our memory and thinking. In this Pilot Project, researchers aim to provide support for the idea that ERK5 is a neuroprotective molecule in Alzheimer's and that it can stop disease processes in the earliest stages.

What will they do?

Dr Muller and the team will use brain cells from mice with features of Alzheimer’s to understand how ERK5 could be protective. They will see how brain cells function and survive when this molecule is turned on and off, and test whether having active ERK5 protects brain cells when they are faced with amyloid and tau proteins.


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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.