Research Projects

The role of sleep in people with Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease

Awarded to:
Dr Stephanie Brown

Current award:

University of Cambridge

28 February 2022 - 17 February 2025

Full project name:

The role of sleep dysfunction in Down syndrome Alzheimer’s disease: Novel applied methodologies






Researchers are using powerful brain scanning techniques to investigate how sleep affects brain changes in people with Down’s syndrome (DS).

Almost everyone with Down’s syndrome will develop Alzheimer's disease after the age of 40. This is because the genetic changes that cause Down’s syndrome also cause more of the hallmark Alzheimer’ protein, amyloid.

What will they do?

In this project, Dr Brown from the University of Cambridge will study the degenerative brain changes in people with Down’s syndrome using sophisticated brain scanning techniques. Recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow Dr Brown to scan and take high resolution images of the brain.

As well as brain scans, Dr Brown will also conduct several experiments to investigate how sleep is associated with degenerative brain changes in Down’s syndrome. These include measuring proteins associated with Down’s syndrome and sleep from blood samples, monitoring the sleeping patterns with a Fitbit, and carrying out memory tests.

This project aims to answer the question of how sleep quality affects brain changes in people with Down’s syndrome, a high-risk group for Alzheimer's disease. This can inform the development of new treatments and preventions, as sleep is a promising target for therapies that may delay the onset and reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s in people with Down’s syndrome.

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