Understanding the genetic basis of dementia with Lewy bodies

Read about a research project we funded into understanding the genetic basis of dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Lead Investigator: Dr Jose Bras

Institution: Institute of Neurology, University College London

Grant type: Research Fellowship

Duration: 3 years

Amount: £349,994

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'Having been diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies over 3 1/2 years ago (and being in treatment) I am so grateful for this proposed research into thegenetics causing this disease.'

'At present little is known as to the cause of dementia with Lewy bodies. A project of this nature is welcomed.'

'A novel approach in an under-researched area. Although benefits to people with dementia would not directly follow, this project could potentially pave the way for valuable therapeutic developments.'

What do we already know?

Dementia with Lewy bodies shares symptoms with both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, and yet it is still relatively understudied. Although it is not clear what causes dementia with Lewy bodies, there may be a genetic link as some families experience the condition in several individuals.

Finding genes that may increase/decrease the risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies will help us to understand more about the underlying changes that occur in the brain during its development – all genes have a function, and knowing which genesshould be further investigated will give researchers new areas to investigate.

What does this project involve?

Dr Jose Bras has, along with other collaborators, collected the largest number of blood samples from people with dementia with Lewy bodies in the world. He will use these samples to analyse genes that may indicate an increased risk of developing the dementia. 

Specifically, he will be looking at rare types of genes that greatly affect the risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies, and also at more common types of genes that slightly increase or decrease the risk.

Finding genes in this way can only be done with a large number of samples, which is why the large collection of samples available to this research is essential.

How will this benefit people with dementia?

Understanding more about genes that alter the risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies will help researchers to understand more about the biological changes happening within the brain during the condition.

In the future, it is hoped that these areas will be further investigated with the aim of developing treatments for this form of dementia.

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