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The University of Southampton

New funding for study into Alzheimer’s disease

Published: 16 March 2020
A brain

Scientists at the University of Southampton have received nearly £100,000 from Alzheimer’s Research UK to investigate how fluid and toxic waste (amyloid) is removed from the brain.

Fluid and toxic waste is often removed from the brain through the walls of the brain’s arteries, a process called Intramural Periarterial Drainage (IPAD). However, when IPAD fails the fluid and toxic waste remains in the brain deposition of Aβ in these channels.

A recently discovered form of toxic waste (p-Aβ) accumulates in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease however, not much is known about its deposition in the walls of arteries.

Recent research from the Interdisciplinary Ageing and Dementia Centre (IDEAC) at the University of Southampton, has shown that the force responsible for IPAD is derived from the contractions of smooth muscle cells – a process called vasomotion.

The nerves that contract the smooth muscle cells could be a useful target for early therapy, but the sensors present on the smooth muscle cells are not fully described.

The new study, which will be led by Professor Roxana Carare in collaboration with Johannes Attems, Neuropathologist and Newcastle University, will use sophisticated microscopy to assess the pattern of distribution of the sensors in the blood vessels, their relationship with p-Aβ and how they change with age and the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Carare said: “Alzheimer’s disease is devastating condition affecting over 30 million worldwide. Understanding the exact arrangement and function of all elements in the system for eliminating waste from the brain will bring us a step closer to the design of efficient therapies for the disease. 

“We will be using microscopy in the Biomedical Imaging Unit to characterise the receptors on the smooth muscle cells of arteries to act upon the vasomotion, which our interdisciplinary work through IDEAC has shown is key for elimination of waste from the ageing brain.”

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