New insights into brain blood flow

Scientists in Manchester are studying changes in brain blood flow using sophisticated new imaging equipment.

Researching

Causes

While the brain is only 2% of our total body weight, it needs around 15% of the body’s blood supply to support the oxygen and energy demands placed upon it by brain activity. Therefore, changes to the blood supply to the brain can have wide-reaching effects, and have been linked to changes seen in the brains of people with dementia. To be able to study how blood flow may be altered and the impacts this has, researchers need to have tools at their disposal that mean they can easily and accurately measure brain blood flow. This new award to the University of Manchester will allow Prof Stuart Allen and his team to have cutting-edge equipment to measure brain blood flow in mice with features of Alzheimer’s.

Our brains are reliant on constant and plentiful blood flow bringing fresh oxygen to our highly active brain cells, and so disruptions to this supply can be harmful to their proper function. Understanding why blood flow is altered in dementia and the impacts of reduced flow are key questions that dementia researchers are working to answer. As disrupted brain blood flow is a feature of many types of dementia, this could be a key process to target to reduce the damage being triggered within the brain. To be able to explore these important questions, researchers in Manchester will now have sophisticated camera equipment that allows them to detect and accurately measure changes in blood flow.

Thanks to this award, teams in Manchester will now have a sophisticated camera that lets them perform laser speckle imaging, highlighting blood flow. Combining these measurements with tests of the mice’s memory will allow the team to draw links between how reduced brain blood flow could be contributing to memory symptoms. A few teams in Manchester are interested in the links between changes in blood flow and inflammation in the brain, which is linked with damage to nerve cells. By unpicking these complex relationships between multiple factors, teams may unearth new ways to tackle the diseases that cause dementia.

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Awarded to
Prof. Stuart Allen

Institution
University of Manchester

Current Award
£34,897

Dates
1 September 2017 - 31 August 2018

Full project name
Assessing the contribution of reduced cerebral blood flow to dementia.