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Hopes of sea snail painkiller after breakthrough

Scientists at the University of Leicester hope a major breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's and cancer may also lead to the development of a new painkiller, using a toxin produced by a sea snail.

We are very proud of this research. It has taken several years of hard work to master the chemistry techniques to create these new building blocks but now that we have conquered it we have access to new building blocks that people have only ever dreamed of before!

Amino acids are Mother Nature’s building blocks. They are used to make all proteins and so are essential for life, however Mother Nature only uses twenty of these building blocks. The Leicester research involves the chemical synthesis of unnatural amino acids that can be used to make unnatural mini-proteins with new 3D structures and importantly new functions.

We are actively using these building blocks to develop new treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's disease. We have also had a summer student use the building blocks to synthesise a toxin produced by a sea snail, and hope to develop this as a new painkiller.

– Dr Andrew Jamieson, lead scientist

Breakthrough in fight against Alzheimer's and cancer

Scientists at the University of Leicester have made a "breakthrough" in the fight against Alzheimer's and cancer, which they have described as "the stuff of dreams."

Dr Andrew Jamieson with Dr Boris Allard from the University of Leicester Credit: University of Leicester

Researchers have developed a new way to make "designer proteins" that can be used to make more effective drugs with fewer side effects.

The advance is announced by the Jamieson Research Group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester.

Their work, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.

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Figures show people in Nottingham affected by Dementia

Research by the Alzheimer's Society shows that 750,000 people in the UK have a form of Dementia and that more than half of those suffer with Alzheimer's disease.

Stats from 'Mapping the Dementia Gap' show thousands in Nottingham will be affected by the illness.

Number of people currently living with dementia / expected to have dementia by 2021:

  • Nottingham City: 2,631 / 2,874
  • Nottinghamshire: 8,625 / 11,768

In just fifteen years, it is projected that over a million people will be living with Dementia nationwide, with this figure set to soar to 1.7million by 2051.

Cure for Alzheimer's could be one step closer

A cure for Alzheimer's disease could be a step closer after scientists in Leicester revealed they have discovered a chemical which reverses brain degeneration in mice.

The work by the Medical Research Council based in Leicester is the first time brain damage caused by diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinsons has been reversed.

Charity gives Alzheimer's research a cautious welcome

A charity has given a cautious welcome to the development of a 'promising' potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases, developed by a team at the University of Leicester.

An expert from the Alzheimer's Society said while the possibilities were exciting, there is still a "long way" to go before a drug suitable for use by humans will be produced.

This is a promising development as it shows this biological pathway is a potential target for new treatments.

However, it is important to note that this study was carried out on mice with prion disease and so it is not clear how applicable it is to humans with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

What we need now is further research into potential drugs which can target the same pathway.

Whilst the ability to stop neurodegeneration in its tracks would be hugely exciting, we are still a long way from seeing a drug which is suitable for human use.

– Dr Clare Walton, research communications manager, Alzeihmer's Society

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Alzheimer's research is 'historic turning point'

An experimental drug shown to help treat degenerative diseases such as Alzeimer's and Parkinson's by preventing the death of brain neurons will be seen as a 'turning point' in medical history, experts claim.

The study, by the Medical Research Council's toxicology unit at the University of Leicester, saw the drug injected into the stomachs of mice to "flip" a cellular switch from 'off' to 'on', preventing the neurons from dying.

The findings have been welcomed by other experts in the field.

This is the first convincing report that a small drug, of the type most conveniently turned into medicines, stops the progressive death of neurons in the brain as found, for instance, in Alzheimer's disease.

This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer's.

– Prof Roger Morris, King's College London

Leicester study raises prospect of treating Alzheimer's

A landmark study by experts at the University of Leicester has raised the prospect of a pill that can treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer's by halting the death of neurons.

The pills could be available within 10 years Credit: Matthias Hiekel/DPA/Press Association Images

The research, performed on sick mice, is at a very early stage and currently the compound has "harmful" side effects, but experts say it provides the "real possibility" of developing a medicine in future.

It could be a decade or more before any such medicine suitable for human patients is developed.

Police search city centre for missing pensioner

Police in Birmingham are appealing for the public's help in their efforts to search for pensioner, Mary Trainor.

The 73-year-old left her son's home on Sheepcote Street in the city centre at around 9am today. She was unaccompanied and has not been seen since.

She was reported missing to police at around 12pm.

Mary, who has Alzheimer's, requires regular medication which she does not have with her.

She is described as white, slim and around 5'3" tall. She had grey shoulder length hair, blue eyes and speaks with a northern Irish accent.

At the time of her disappearance, she was believed to be wearing black trousers, black shoes and a white t-shirt with a blue pattern on the front.

She was carrying two handbags; one purple and one beige.

She has no mobile phone to call any friends or relatives to tell them where she is. She also does not have her bus pass with her.

Mary has been missing once before in 2010 and was found 15 hours later.

Alzheimer's report reveals a fear for care homes

A report by Alzheimer's Society has found that two in three people in the Midlands would be scared about going into a care home.

The report, Low Expectations, found that pessimism regarding life in care homes is leading people to settle for less.

The charity is calling on the government to do more to ensure minimum standards and more effective regulations are put in place.

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