Gene genie - a new gene therapy initiative

We know that some types of dementia are caused by inherited gene mutations, but what if we could fix these genes to stop them causing disease? Alzheimer's Society is a partner in the UK Dementia Research Institute, which is investing £2 million in an initiative to do just that.

Lab door

Gene therapy is a cutting-edge technique that is still in the experimental stages. So far it has been used to treat genetic forms of blindness and sickle cell disease, and it’s had encouraging results with haemophilia and some forms of cancer.

How does gene therapy work?

Viruses have evolved to use clever ways to package and transport their genetic information into cells of our body.

Once inside a cell, the virus is able to reproduce and spread. Scientists can use these abilities to deliver healthy human DNA into a cell instead.

This can stop mutated DNA from causing disease, meaning that gene therapy may replace drug treatments and surgery to treat many types of genetic conditions.

Where is this research being done?

The UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI) has awarded £2 million for Professor Chris Shaw to set up a hub of gene therapy research at King’s College London. He said,

‘We’re looking forward to building a key resource for the institute – pushing us further and enabling innovative research in gene therapy.’

Alzheimer’s Society is a founding partner in the UK DRI, alongside the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The institute comprises seven top research centres and it is already attracting the best and brightest global and UK researchers in dementia, care and technology.

Dr Adrian Ivinson, UK DRI Director, Operations, says,

‘The gene therapy field is undergoing a renaissance. At UK DRI, we believe in taking big risks that could reap big rewards.'

Genetics of dementia

Find out what part genes play in dementia and how genetics can affect the risk of developing the condition.

Learn more

Care and cure magazine: Autumn 19

Care and cure is the research magazine of Alzheimer's Society is for anyone interested in dementia research.
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Care and cure is the research magazine of Alzheimer's Society is for anyone interested in dementia research.
Subscribe now

1 comment

This was very informative, and I’m glad I found it, it has taught me a lot more about the awful disease, and I hope with all my heart that many people can be helped by you. But what can you do for the careers, I became very ill due to the stress of caring for my partner for 19 years. It was only after I was taken into hospital that my partner was taken into a home, and she is still there. Couldn’t there be more help for people who. become cares, often with a long very hard road for them, until the eventful happens. This may sound cold,maybe callas, but careers go through some the hardest, heartbreaking times. When they can feel so helpless to help their loved one, you become isolated,as friends just stop calling. I totally and whole admire those people that can keep being their for the person, right upto the end in many cases. I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t of carried on looking after her even if I hadn’t been admitted to hospital.