Research Projects

Understanding the relationship between iron and dementia

Awarded to:
Dr Laura Winchester

Current award:
£116,339.00

Institution:
University of Oxford

Dates:
1 July 2021 - 30 June 2024

Full project name:

Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating how iron levels can be used as a marker for dementia.

Diagnosis

Treatments

Understand

Risks

Symptoms

Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating how iron levels can be used as a marker for dementia.

Iron is a vital component of our blood; it helps to carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Increasing levels of iron in the brain is  a known feature of ageing and some diseases of the brain.

People with low iron levels in their blood, a condition known as anaemia, are thought to be more at risk of developing problems with thinking, communication, understanding and memory. There is conflicting evidence as to whether changes in blood iron levels increase a person’s risk of developing dementia, but researchers have discovered a relationship between increased iron in the brain and a worsening of symptoms.

During her fellowship, Dr Laura Winchester will use large datasets to further our understanding of how changes in iron levels track with other brain changes that occur in the diseases that cause dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

Levels of iron can be measured in multiple ways including in blood tests, through our genes or even in brain scans. Dr Winchester will use sophisticated data analysis techniques to explore how these different measurements and changing iron levels may increase a person’s risk of dementia.

The research will also explore how changing iron levels could be used as a potential marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Dementia is one of the world’s greatest challenges. It steals lives and leaves millions heartbroken. But we can change the future.

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