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Cambridge Neuroscientists benefit from £192,000 charity funding boost from Alzheimer’s Research UK

Dementia scientists in Cambridge are set to gain from a big funding boost after Alzheimer’s Research UK committed a record amount of money to new research projects. The UK’s leading dementia research charity has pledged a further £5.5m investment in new projects, increasing its current commitment to research to over £20m. The announcement, which coincides with World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), includes awards worth £192,112 for researchers at the University of Cambridge.


The charity, which is based in Cambridgeshire, has awarded a total of 52 new grants aimed at understanding the causes of dementia, improving diagnosis and finding new treatments and preventions. Five of these grants have been awarded to pioneering researchers in Cambridge.
The commitment will allow scientists at the University to study how amyloid and tau – two proteins that are the main hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease – build in the brain and become toxic to brain cells. It will also enable researchers to determine whether specific connections between brain cells involved in learning and memory, known as synapses, are more susceptible to amyloid toxicity than others.


Cambridge neuroscientist Dr Leila Luheshi has been awarded £43,000 to buy equipment that will allow several research groups at the Department of Chemistry to investigate the fundamental molecular origins of dementia. These scientists will analyse how the proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease clump together and damage the brain. As part of the recently established Cambridge-Elan Centre for Research Innovation and Drug Discovery collaboration with industry, researchers hope to translate their discoveries into new treatments for dementia.
She said: “I am delighted that Alzheimer’s Research UK has chosen to invest in our research. This funding will allow us to increase our understanding of the early stages of the disease: an essential step on the road to developing more effective treatments. With numbers of people affected by dementia increasing, there is an urgent need for more research funding to support the many teams of scientists working together to defeat this devastating disease.”


Sarah-Jane Cousins from Cambridge has experienced first-hand the devastating effect dementia can have on a person’s life. Her mum Elizabeth, known as Bibby, struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for eight years until she died in 2010. Sarah-Jane said: “Bibby’s skills, including dressmaking in her spare time, were lost as Alzheimer’s crept on. Although her mobility became increasingly difficult and she couldn’t really speak, she knew us right up until the end and loved Poppy – a big smile would spread across her face at the sight of her little granddaughter. World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September always holds a very special place in my heart as it falls on mum’s birthday. I support Alzheimer’s Research UK as they’re the research experts – they fund more dementia research in the UK than any other charity.”


Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are proud to announce a record year for investment in research. Dementia is an issue close to many people’s hearts and it is touching to see that public support for our work has increased despite a difficult financial climate. We are entirely dependent on voluntary donations, so this major investment in research is a vote of support from the public for UK dementia scientists. We are dedicated to defeating dementia and pleased to be supporting world-class research in Cambridge.”
“While this increased investment reflects a successful year’s fundraising for Alzheimer’s Research UK, it’s also a time to look to the future. With the number of people in the UK with dementia estimated at 820,000 and rising, including almost 6,000 people in Cambridgeshire, we need increased and sustained funding for research. Funding for dementia research still lags far behind research into other serious diseases and we desperately need the public’s support to make dementia a national priority.”

This announcement follows earlier reports this week that the world's leading pharmaceutical companies are downgrading the search for new treatments for Alzheimer's disease after the failure of a series of high-profile drugs trials. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19653707

For further information, or to speak with Dr Leila Luheshi, Sarah-Jane Cousins or Shirley Cramer, please contact Kirsty Marais, Media Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK on 01223 843304, 07826 559233 or email press@alzheimersresearchuk.org

Posted on 21/09/2012

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