Research Projects

Is Calcium build-up in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease?

Awarded to:
Dr Sergio Bertazzo

Current award:

University College London

1 March 2023 - 28 February 2025

Full project name:

The medusa effect: cellular calcification and Alzheimer's disease






Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Over half a million people in the UK are living with Alzheimer’s. The disease involves a build-up of certain proteins in the brain, including amyloid and tau.

Normally, tau help to supports microtubules, a kind of skeleton that forms the structure of cells. In Alzheimer’s, chemical latch on to tau and it breaks away from the microtubules and forms into tangles. These tangles are thought to cause the brain cell’s process to be disrupted and damaged.

Researchers know that calcium minerals build up in the brains of some people with Alzheimer’s. While calcification in the brain's blood vessels has long been recognised, recent research has shown that calcification can also occur within brain cells themselves, including the cell nucleus. This calcification is found near tau tangles. Researchers don’t fully understand the exact reasons for this calcification and its role in the disease.

To develop effective treatments for Alzheimer’s we need to better understand the brain changes that cause damage to our cells. In this project, Dr Sergio Bertazzo and his team of experts will investigate why some brain cells calcify while others do not and how this contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s.They will also explore why certain brain regions are more susceptible to calcification.

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