Investigating ways to prevent the toxic build-up of amyloid protein in Alzheimer’s disease

Research project: Understanding the molecular basis of Abeta peptide interacting proteins in Alzheimer's disease

Lead Investigator: Professor K. Ravi Acharya

Institution: University of Bath

Grant type: PhD studentship

Duration: 36 months

Amount: £84,900

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'An extremely thoroughly written application explaining the use of some sophisticated techniques and how well the department is equipped to do this kind of structure/function work.'

'This looks to be a promising piece of research which will also give the student a multiplicity of experience.'

'This seems a well thought out student training programme with the emphasis on teaching biochemical approaches and techniques. The benefits for a Alzheimer’s disease research appear to come in the very valid aim of the development and progression of the student.'

What do we already know?

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease is toxic clumps of the protein amyloid, which accumulate close to brain cells. This contributes towards brain cell death, leading to symptoms such as memory loss. The clumps are produced when a larger version of the amyloid protein is chopped up into fragments by enzymes. Some of these fragments then stick to each other forming large, toxic groups.  

These fragments of amyloid should be destroyed by the cell's disposal mechanisms; however for reasons that are so far unclear they sometimes form into the toxic clumps instead. There is some evidence that if a cell has problems with sending the amyloid fragments to be destroyed it could contribute towards the formation of the toxic amyloid clumps.

What does this project involve?

This project will focus on the aspect of cells that destroys the amyloid fragments. The student on the project will use cutting-edge techniques from multiple scientific fields to understand how the amyloid fragments interact with elements of the disposal mechanism. This will allow the student to understand which elements have particular effects on the amyloid fragments and how the different parts of this pathway interact with each other. 

How will this benefit people with dementia?

Research indicates that build-up of the toxic amyloid protein is a major contributor to Alzheimer’s disease. Finding ways to understand and potentially prevent the amyloid protein from forming these build-ups will help in the search to find new targets for potential treatments. 

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