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The University of Southampton

New findings may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Published: 7 March 2008

Scientists at the University of Southampton, funded by the UK’s leading dementia research charity, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, are a step closer to understanding why proteins such as ‘amyloid’ clog-up the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings will be presented by the lead researcher, Professor Roy Weller, at the 9 th annual Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network conference next week in Bristol. Two hundred leading dementia scientists from across the UK will be attending the conference on 13 and 14 March.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said, “The conference is a great opportunity for researchers to share their findings and exchange ideas.

“We’ve seen some promising results in this field in the past year. With 700,000 people in the UK today with dementia, we urgently need to boost research funding if we are going to beat dementia.”

Professor Weller and his team found that the specific mechanisms for taking amyloid out of the brain fail with age. Normally the more soluble form of amyloid drains, with waste fluid, along the walls of the arteries and out of the brain. When the artery walls begin to stiffen with age, the drainage of amyloid is hindered. This leads to the accumulation of amyloid in the brain and to dementia.

Professor Weller said, “Our research has provided us with a better understanding of why amyloid accumulates in the brain. This will allow us to develop ways to stop it from happening.

“Therapies which help amyloid to drain along blood vessel walls and out of the brain could help prevent the accumulation of amyloid in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.

“This may help us develop future treatments which could prevent amyloid plaque formation in the brain, hopefully slowing or preventing the progression of the disease.”

Notes for editors

    • The findings of Professor Weller and his colleagues have been published recently in the two Journals, Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology and Brain Pathology .
    • The 9 th Annual Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network conference will be held on 13-14 March on the Watershed, Bristol.
    • The Alzheimer’s Research Trust provides free information to the public on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and the treatments currently available: phone 01223 843899;
    • The Alzheimer’s Research Trust, is the UK’s leading research charity for dementia. It relies on donations from the public to fund its vital research.
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