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Southampton researchers receive dementia funding boost

Published: 
19 September 2014

Three researchers at the University of Southampton will benefit from close to £200,000 of extra funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

The important boost will enable dementia researchers based at the University to continue with their pioneering studies. This funding comes ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on Sunday 21 September, which aims to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Dr Roxana Carare of the Faculty of Medicine will use this investment to upgrade the state-of –the-art microscopy suite. Researchers at the University of Southampton can make use of this new equipment to study the molecular causes of dementia in even greater detail, bringing us a step closer to efficient treatment targets.

Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola in Biological Sciences also benefits from funds for a new Pilot Project aimed at understanding whether the protective coating on nerve cells is damaged in dementia.

Dr Katrin Deinhardt, a lecturer in neuroscience at the University of Southampton, has received funding from the charity for a PhD Scholarship. The project will focus on the protein tau, which is known to be a factor in several forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. During Alzheimer’s, the tau protein forms sticky clumps called tangles which are thought to be toxic to brain cells. The tangles can spread from one nerve cell to another, meaning many cells can be affected by this toxicity. The mechanisms behind why this occurs are not fully understood. This important project will use innovative techniques to investigate how the tau tangles are transported through the brain’s network of nerve cells in Alzheimer’s.

These extra funds will help researchers to study Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia from different angles, providing a better understanding of the causes of dementia. Increasing our knowledge of dementia and the mechanisms behind the condition will give scientists the insights needed to help to develop effective new treatments.

Dr Deinhardt said: “I am delighted that Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting this research. Investment in research allows scientists to access the resources they need to gain an in-depth understanding of dementia. If we understand how the tau tangles are spreading through the brain in dementia, we may find a way to stop this process in its tracks. Supporting new scientists is vital and as there are six cancer researchers for every dementia scientist, being granted the opportunity to bring fresh ideas and skills into the field through PhD Scholarships is fantastic.”

Dr Laura Phipps, Science Communications Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said: "We are delighted to be supporting such a diverse array of research in Southampton. With more than 18,000 people in the Hampshire area alone affected by dementia, this research is especially important. Dementia research is desperately underfunded and with the rising numbers of people affected by the condition, we need projects such as these to help us to understand and defeat it. These funds could not have been given to these pioneering studies without the generous support of the public and we are grateful to everyone who has donated towards this essential research.”

 

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