Scottish Alzheimer’s researchers in £600k charity funding boost

Posted on 21st September 2017

Dementia researchers in Scotland are set to benefit from a funding boost to support three new pioneering studies that will shed more light on Alzheimer’s disease. Almost £600k of new funding has been awarded to scientists in Scotland from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the largest charity funder of dementia research in the UK.

Dementia affects around 70,000 people in Scotland and 850,000 people across the UK today, causing devastating symptoms of memory loss, confusion, personality changes and a gradual decline in the ability of someone to manage daily life. This year, dementia surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death for people in Scotland, and there are as yet very limited treatment options available for people who develop the condition. However, with the support of Alzheimer’s Research UK, scientists in Scotland are working to understand the different causes of dementia and how to treat the condition.

The three new projects focus on Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. Dr Riccardo Marioni from University of Edinburgh will use big data approaches to probe the links between our genes and lifestyle factors such as education, with the aim of creating tools to predict whether someone is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dr Shuzo Sakata at University of Strathclyde is exploring whether activating certain brain regions can reduce the build-up of amyloid protein, a key culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. In the largest of the three new projects being funded, Prof Bettina Platt at University of Aberdeen will set out to unravel the links between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof Platt said:

“We know that diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and last year my team made the surprising discovery that the reverse may also be true – that the production of the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid, may trigger diabetes. This new funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK will allow us to scrutinise the processes underlying the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, which could reveal important clues to events driving the development of Alzheimer’s disease and provide new treatment options.”

Dr Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Dementia is one of our greatest medical challenges, but research has the power to improve our understanding of the condition and deliver effective new treatments. With around 70,000 people in Scotland living with dementia and no new treatments in over a decade, pioneering projects such as these offer real hope in the fight against dementia.

“It is paramount that we can support researchers as they add crucial pieces of knowledge to our growing understanding of the diseases that cause dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK receives no government funding, and so without the generosity of our amazing supporters, we would not be able to fund vital dementia research.”

Posted in Science news