Exploring the relationship between blood pressure control and Alzheimer’s disease

Research project: Investigating the brain renin angiotensin regulatory pathway in normal mice and a knock-in model of amyloid pathology

Lead Investigator: Professor Mark Good 

  • Institution: University of Cardiff 
  • Grant type: PhD 
  • Duration: 36 Months
  • Amount: £84,548 

Why did we fund this research?

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

Sounds like an interesting piece of research and making use of already approved drugs for repositioning should save time and money. The work is looking at all areas from cause to cure.

Project summary

Researchers have previously found that high blood pressure during mid-life can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This project aims to explore whether targeting the system that controls blood pressure has a positive effect on thinking skills and memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  

The background 

Previous research has found that high blood pressure during mid-life can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies have also reported that people taking medications that lower their blood pressure are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This effect has been reported to vary depending on which type of drug a person might be taking.

The most commonly prescribed drugs used to lower blood pressure target the renin angiotensin system that the body uses to control blood pressure. This system exists in two different parts which work to maintain balance and regulate blood pressure.  

Researchers have already seen that this renin angiotensin system is unbalanced in the post mortem brains of people who have lived with Alzheimer’s disease.

They have previously used a drug, DIZE to address the imbalance in mice who have a gene mutation that causes them to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of DIZE were positive, reducing memory problems in the mice and reducing the amyloid plaques found in their brains (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease in humans) by 50 per cent. 

What does this project involve?

Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain is incredibly complex and difficult to replicate. However, as our knowledge of dementia increases, we are able to create better models in mice of Alzheimer’s disease which are more representative of how the disease occurs in humans.

For this project, the researchers will use a newer, more representative mouse model to test whether the drug DIZE has the same positive effects that were seen in the previous study. 

The researcher will first identify the effects of the DIZE drug in healthy mice who do not have Alzheimer’s disease. Once the effects of the drug on a healthy brain have been established, the researchers will then test the drug on this new mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, to see if it has any effect on thinking skills, memory and general behaviour.

They will use a state of the art imaging system to look at the direct effect of the drug on the cells in the brain and examine  brain changes in more detail.

This will give them as much information as possible about the effects of the drug DIZE on the brain, with and without Alzheimer’s disease. 

How will this project help people with dementia?

There are still no drugs available that either slow down or stop Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia from developing. 

By using the drug DIZE the researchers will learn more about the relationship between blood pressure control and Alzheimer’s disease. If they see the same positive effects from DIZE treatment in this new model, this gives scientists another pathway in the body to target with future therapies.

This will help researchers develop new drugs from scratch, or help them identify existing medications that might benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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