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UK scientists move closer to discovering cause of Alzheimer's

Published 11 July 2010

UK scientists are a step closer to discovering the cause of Alzheimer's.

Research into the building blocks of dementia funded by Alzheimer's Society has been presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) today (Sunday, 11 July, 2010).

 

Dr Amritpal Mudher from the University of Southampton - who has been supported by Alzheimer's Society throughout her career - presented her findings on the protein tau, a major hallmark of Alzheimer's. There are three Alzheimer's Society funded PhD students, three research fellows and one lead scientist presenting work at ICAD this year.

 

Healthy nerve cells produce tau but in Alzheimer's an abnormal form of tau is produced which does not function correctly. Dr Mudher has found that the abnormal tau does not only disrupt nerve cells, forming tangles that cause them to die, but it also affects any healthy tau around it. This prevents the cell from performing its normal functions.

 

Professor Clive Ballard, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Society says,

'Dr Mudher's findings provide important information about how tau is involved in Alzheimer's. It is particularly interesting to see this additional activity of abnormal tau as it helps to explain the effect tau has on nerve cells and why the cells die. The more we understand about how tau works, the closer we get to a potential treatment.'

Other Alzheimer's Society research being presented at ICAD includes research into the link between brain injury and dementia; the genetics of Alzheimer's disease, using cutting edge stem cell techniques; whether the antibiotic Minocycline could be a future treatment for Alzheimer's disease; and a study into understanding what brain processes are affected into Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) and how brain imaging could be used to diagnose it.

'Alzheimer's Society is committed to investing in young researchers. British scientists are at the forefront of dementia research despite the fact the dementia research in the UK is desperately underfunded. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia but with the right investment dementia can be defeated.'