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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Award recognises IfLS academic’s excellence in dementia research

Published: 30 July 2015
Alzheimer's Society Awards

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS) member Dr Roxana Carare has recently been recognised for the quality of her research in the Dementia Research Leaders awards.

The awards were set up by the Alzheimer’s Society to mark the contribution that early-career researchers make to dementia research and those affected by dementia.

Roxana, an Associate Professor in Clinical Neurosciences, in Medicine at Southampton, was awarded runner-up in the Academic Achievement award for her achievements and the challenges she has had to overcome in her research to help prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases.

As people age, their brains gradually lose the ability to clear away waste. Most organs in the body are endowed with large vessels named lymphatic vessels that clear away waste but the brain lacks such vessels.

Roxana has demonstrated that the role of lymphatic vessels is replaced by tiny convoluted channels that are embedded deep within the walls of blood vessels in the brain. As blood is pumped into the brain, waste is pumped out through these convoluted channels.

The major problem is that as blood vessels age and arteries become stiff associated with increasing age or various genetic backgrounds, the structure of these channels change. Waste products such as amyloid proteins start to deposit as plaques in the walls of blood vessels, the ability of the blood vessels to feed the nerve cells fails, and dementia occurs.

The research led by Roxana focuses on determining how best to manipulate the changes of the channels in the walls of the blood vessels in order to prevent the build-up of these plaques. The research involves studying human brains; experimental models; sophisticated microscopy techniques; and collaboration with clinicians, mathematicians, computer scientists who can build simulation models, chemists and the pharmaceutical industry.

Roxana received £500 for personal and professional development from Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society.

She said: “Receiving this award is recognition towards my work that opens up a new understudied mechanism for the development of Alzheimer’s disease, with huge potential for therapy.

“I gave a talk in New York at the first conference on clearing brain fluids which raised huge interest. Following this I was invited to go on a sabbatical and form working groups to establish the dynamics of clearing different compartments of the brain. I will be using my award funding to go towards travel and expenses associated with this.”

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