Research Projects

Mapping a key protein in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease

Awarded to:
Dr Scott Miners

Current award:

University of Bristol

1 May 2023 - 30 April 2024

Full project name:

Mapping the distribution and cell-specific expression of RAS receptors in Alzheimer’s disease






Our blood pressure needs to be regulated at all times. This is the role of our renin-angiotensin system (RAS). If RAS is overactive over a long period of time, this can lead to constant high blood pressure and eventually to cardiovascular diseases.

Scientists have found that RAS can be overactive in the brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s disease. RAS receptor proteins are found throughout the brain and they help to support this vital regulatory system. We don’t know how these protein are affected by Alzheimer’s.

There are RAS-blocking drugs commonly prescribed to manage high blood pressure, by decreasing the level of RAS receptors. Interestingly, evidence from large clinical studies showed that the drugs could delay the development of memory problems and onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This suggests that RAS could be a potential target for treating Alzheimer’s disease.

What will the researchers do?

In this pilot study, Dr Scott Miners and his team will use a novel technique to visualise and quantify RAS receptors in the brain. They will compare the distribution of RAS receptors in brain tissues from donors with Alzheimer’s disease to those without the condition. This has previously not been possible due to a lack of research tools to label the RAS receptors in brain tissues.

The team proposes that RAS receptors act as molecular switches and regulate key cellular processes within the brain. An increased number of RAS receptors in the brain can cause damage to the immune and nerve cells, leading to the onset of brain damage and decline in brain function.

This project aims to better understand how RAS becomes overactivated and contributes to disease onset. Clinical trials are underway to test if RAS-blocking drugs that target RAS receptors can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings from this project can hopefully improve the chances of successful clinical trials.

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