1. ITV Report

Cambridge scientists secure £1.75 million to tackle Alzheimer's

Scientists in Cambridge are to be given £1.75 million pounds to find ways to treat and prevent dementia.

It comes as people mark World Alzheimer's Day today. Credit: ITV Anglia.

The money, from Cambridgeshire charity Alzheimer's Research UK, will be used to help study what effects lifestyle and brain injury have on the risk of developing the condition.

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, and affects nearly 500,000 people across the country.

More than £16 million of research in Cambridge has been funded by Alzheimer's Research UK since the organisation was founded in the city 25 years ago.

Dementia isn't a normal part of ageing but the result of physical changes to the brain caused by diseases such as Alzheimer's. In the past few decades researchers have made enormous progress in tackling conditions like heart disease, cancer and HIV.

With sustained investment in research there is no reason why we won't be able to make similar progress for people living with dementia.

– Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK

The projects the money will fund include:

  • Nearly £800,000 for researchers investigating whether internet counselling and other web-based support could help people make lifestyle changes to reduce their dementia risk.
  • £100,000 for a study that will measure the magnetic signature of the brain to identify the early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
  • A £419,456 study using state-of-the-art brain scans to find the brain changes that underlie visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies.
  • Nearly £50,000 for a project that aims to identify early signs of Alzheimer's through the eye.
  • Over £18,000 for sensitive new equipment to measure protein changes involved in different forms of dementia.
  • Nearly £30,000 for a project testing the idea that a protein involved in dementia could originate in the gut.

On top of these projects one professor, Michael Coleman from the University of Cambridge, secured a grant of nearly £50,000 for research to understand how brain injuries could be linked to the disease.

From traffic accidents to collision sports, millions of people around the world experience head injuries every year. While these events can result in immediate damage to the brain, evidence suggests that they could also have significant effects in the longer-term. Recent research has pointed towards traumatic brain injury as a probable risk factor for dementia in later life. While studies have shed light on higher rates of dementia in people who sustain these injuries, we don't fully understand how these events set dementia-causing processes in motion.

We aim to identify the earliest changes that take place in the brain following a traumatic brain injury, to see if we could stop them from triggering subsequent changes that could lead onto dementia.

– Prof Coleman