Using large datasets to understand the genetics of frontotemporal dementia

Research project: The genetic dissection of the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia

Lead Investigator: Dr Raffaele Ferrari

Institution: University College London

Grant type: Junior Fellowship

Duration: 36 months

Amount: £224,815

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'A highly specialized project using ever more powerful informatics tools to locate suspect genes. Clearly Dr Ferrari has excellent experience in his field and is working within an internationally renowned research environment.'

'Looks a useful piece of research which will add to the sum total of knowledge.'

'A valuable extension of an existing study.'

What do we already know?

Frontotemporal dementia usually affects people under the age of 65 and symptoms can include changes in personality and behaviour and problems with language. 

Between 10 and 30% of cases of frontotemporal dementia are thought to be caused by known changes in certain genes. However, the causes of other forms of frontotemporal dementia are unknown. Evidence is increasingly indicating that several different genes together could contribute towards the underlying mechanisms that lead to the death of brain cells and symptoms of the condition. 

What does this project involve?

Dr Ferrari and his team will use large sets of data on the genes of people affected by frontotemporal dementia to understand more about the genetic contributions behind disease development. They will analyse thousands of genes to find out which ones are associated with the development of the condition. They will then share this information with colleagues who can use techniques using cells in the lab to understand how these genes affect the function of brain cells.  

How will this benefit people with dementia?

This project will contribute towards our knowledge of the genetics and underlying mechanisms that contribute towards the development of frontotemporal dementia. Researchers can use this knowledge to design further experiments and understand more about what causes frontotemporal dementia and whether there are any mechanisms that could be suitable targets for potential future treatments.