Unpicking the complexities of frontotemporal dementia
Dr Tammaryn Lashley
University College London
17 February 2020 - 16 February 2021
Full project name:
Astrocytic involvement in Frontotemporal lobar degeneration
This grant is an extension to a previous project
Dr Tammaryn Lashley’s team at University College London are expanding their work to find out if different forms of frontotemporal dementia can have different effects on astrocytes, a key cell type in the brain.
Changes in personality, emotions, and behaviour are all symptoms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second biggest cause of dementia in under 65s.
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, the hallmark proteins that build up and cause brain damage in FTD are not the same for all people with the disease. This poses a challenge for creating treatments that can slow or stop the damage as one drug may not work for all forms of the disease.
We previously funded Dr Tammaryn Lashley and her team to tease apart the differences between the different forms of FTD, focusing on the build-up of toxic proteins and changes to the brain’s immune system. You can read more about the aims of that project here.
This funding will build on this work by looking at changes to astrocytes in the different forms of the disease.
Astrocytes are the most common cell type in our brains. These star-shaped support cells that have important roles in maintaining the brain environment and keeping nerve cells healthy throughout life.
In Alzheimer’s, astrocytes become hyperactive and start damaging the brain. If the same is true in FTD, drugs that can control the activity of astrocytes could allow nerve cells in the brain to function better for longer.
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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.