Scottish dementia research gets £100,000 charity boost

08 June 2020

Today (Monday 8 June) the UK’s leading dementia research charity announced that research in Scotland has been given a £100,000 funding boost. While Alzheimer’s Research UK estimates it could be facing a potential drop in income due to COVID-19 of up to 45%, the charity is committed to funding science in Scotland.

Dementia affects around 70,000 people in Scotland. People with dementia experience memory loss, confusion, personality changes and gradually lose the ability to manage daily life. The condition is caused by physical diseases in the brain, most commonly Alzheimer’s, and recent evidence shows dementia is also linked to a higher risk of severe COVID-19.

With only limited treatment options currently available for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s Research UK is backing scientists at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Dundee, who are working hard to understand the causes of the condition and investigate better treatment options.

While the mechanisms underpinning nerve cell death in Alzheimer’s are unclear, damaging changes in certain genes can increase peoples risk to the disease.

Dr Kathryn Evans at the University of Edinburgh is studying a gene that may help to protect someone from Alzheimer’s.  She will investigate whether genetically deleting a gene known as SORL1 will impact the loss of nerve cells. The project will help the team understand how decreased amounts of a protein, SORLA, may increase someone’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Kathryn Evans from the University of Edinburgh, recipient of the Alzheimer’s Research UK grant, said:
“We must continue to press for progress in dementia research. Understanding the underlying disease mechanisms using genetic insights is a fundamental grounding for research. I’m extremely grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s supporters for making my research possible. This avenue could lead to new ways of understanding, detecting, and treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

Dr Chris Henstridge, from the University of Dundee will receive a further £50,000 to investigate the loss of connections between brain cells. A new state-of-the-art machine will be used to prepare human brain tissue and will help slice the tissue into ribbons of a mere nanometre– a thousandth of a human hair – thicknesses. This incredible machine will make Dr Henstridge’s work possible, helping him establish his own independent lab at the University of Dundee and help strengthen the dementia research field in the region.

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:“Dementia affects around 70,000 people in Scotland, and nearly one million people across the UK. Research carried out by dementia experts like this is the only answer to a world free of the fear, harm and heartbreak of the condition.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK remains committed to funding the best science and Scotland has a strong dementia research community. Funding research like this would not be possible without donations from our fantastic supporters. Now more than ever, dementia research needs our backing, supporters can donate at https://alzres.uk/make-donation or by calling call 0300 111 5555.”