Research Projects

Understanding cell death and its implications for frontotemporal dementia

Awarded to:
Dr Manolis Fanto

Current award:

King’s College London

1 September 2020 - 3 March 2023

Full project name:

Karyoptotic Cell Death in Dementia






There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia. Nerve cell death and a loss of brain tissue during disease are the ultimate cause of the symptoms of dementia. We don’t yet understand all of the processes that cause nerve cells to die.

Recently scientists investigating Dentatorubro-Pallidoluysian-Atrophy, a rare movement disorder where some people with the condition also go on to develop dementia, have found a new mechanism for nerve cell death.

They think this process is also important in diseases that cause dementia, particularly frontotemporal dementia. The researchers have already carried out early experiments funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK to gain an understanding of key markers of this process.

Now the team at King’s College London will now identify possible regulators of this process that may be targets for future treatments aimed at slowing down or blocking this cell death mechanism.

The process known as karyoptosis is thought to be triggered in a change in how misfolded proteins are cleared from brain nerve cells.

The team will first use a fly with features of disease to understand these changes in detail. They will then look at these changes in brain nerve cells generated from stem cells, which will have more relevance to human disease.

Finally, they will also use post-mortem brains tissue donated by people who died with dementia to see if these markers are present in human disease.

These experiments will form the basis of understanding of a newly discovered process in dementia. Unravelling the science behind diseases that cause dementia is no easy task and they open the door to better diagnostics, preventions and treatments.

Research projects like this are already taking us closer to life-changing breakthroughs and you’re helping us make them possible.


Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia or FTD (sometimes called Pick’s disease) is a relatively rare form of dementia.