How do different proteins interact to impact symptoms in dementia with Lewy bodies?
Dr Lauren Walker
13 July 2021 - 12 July 2024
Full project name:
Determining the impact of multiple pathologies in dementia with Lewy bodies.
Researchers at Newcastle University will use donated brain tissue from people with dementia with Lewy bodies to study how different proteins interact to affect symptoms of the disease.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the third most common type of dementia and is caused by clumps of protein that build up in nerve cells in the brain. One of these proteins is called alpha-synuclein and the clumps it forms are known as Lewy bodies.
It is also common for people with DLB to have other toxic proteins build up in their brain. This includes proteins that are more often thought of as being associated with Alzheimer’s disease – like amyloid and tau.
Misdiagnosis is common in DLB, with some people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which can impact treatment options. It is thought that this may be because the different proteins that build up in the brain may impact which symptoms someone develops first.
Dr Lauren Walker will use brain tissue donated by people who died with DLB to look at this in-depth. She will study how often alpha-synuclein and tau are found in the same brain cells.
Dr Walker will then combine data from the brain tissue with symptom information to try and understand how the level of these different proteins may impact how the disease affects people.
In another set of experiments, Dr Walker will breed mice with features of DLB and introduce tau protein at different stages of the disease. This will help her to understand whether the time at which tau begins to build up in the brains of people with DLB affects symptoms and damage to the brain.
This research will further our understanding of the complexities of DLB and move us closer towards better diagnosis when symptoms don’t fit the typical pattern.
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