Scottish scientists embark on new Alzheimer’s research project

Posted under Blog on November 8th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Scientists at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh are embarking on a research project that could bring new Alzheimer’s treatments a step closer. The study is funded to the tune of £450,000 by the Scottish government and Alzheimer’s Research UK charity

The three-year project, led by Dr Tara Spires-Jones of the University of Edinburgh and co-investigators Dr Iris Oren and Dr Oliver Hardt, will examine changes in the brain, which prevent nerve cells from communicating with each other. As they break down, memory deteriorates. Working alongside scientists in America, the team hopes to get a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease which is expected to affect about 63 million people worldwide by 2030. 

The scientists will use cutting-edge techniques to study a new model of Alzheimer’s, as well as donated brain samples from people who have died with the disease. As part of the study, they will also test treatments designed to target the tau protein. If this approach is successful, it could be the first step in the development of new treatments for people with the disease.

Dr Spires-Jones, a Reader and Chancellor’s fellow in the Centre of Cognitive and Neural Systems at Edinburgh University, said: “There is still much we need to learn about the basic biology of Alzheimer’s in order to understand how to treat the disease, and the knowledge we gain from our research should inform clinical trials for much-needed new treatments.”

Dr Eric Karran, director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We firmly believe this study could bring us closer to an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s and look forward to seeing the results of this research in due course.” 

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's Research UK

Poor sleep linked to Alzheimer’s-like brain changes

Posted under Blog on October 30th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Poor sleep quality may have an impact on Alzheimer’s disease onset, according to a new study led by researchers at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For this study, which is reported in the October 2013 issue of JAMA Neurology, the research team looked at self-reported sleep survey results and examined brain scans of adults with an average age of 76 to find a link between poor sleep and brain plaque proteins. Researchers found that those who said they slept less or poorly had increased build-up of beta-amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. None of those in the study had been diagnosed with the disease.

"These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people," said Adam Spira, lead author of the study and a professor with the School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health. "To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer's disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease."

He went on to caution that the findings do not demonstrate a causal link between poor sleep and Alzheimer's disease, and that further studies are needed to further examine whether poor sleep contributes to or accelerates Alzheimer's disease.

Tags: Alzheimer's, fatigue, Johns Hopkins, sleep deprivation

New support line for lonely older people

Posted under Blog on October 25th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Lonely older people throughout the UK will be able to call a new national helpline for support and advice. Established by British TV personality Esther Rantzen, The Silver Line provides help for elderly people who are feeling isolated and lonely.  

The helpline recently received a grant worth £5 million from the Big Lottery Fund which will enable the service to cover the whole of the UK before Christmas this year – a time when people are most vulnerable to loneliness.

Over half of those aged over 75 years in Britain live alone. Silver Line is concerned about the impact of loneliness on such older people because of its possible links to depression, malnutrition and the development of Alzheimer’s through a lack of mental and physical stimulation. Indeed, a study carried out last year and published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that those who suffer from loneliness have a 64% greater risk of dementia.    

The Silver Line also offers people a ‘befriending service’ through which elderly callers can book a telephone appointment to speak to volunteers which, it is hoped, will help maintain their sense of belonging to a community.

People living in the UK can call The Silver Line on 0800 328 8888. Calls are free to the caller and the lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Tags: Alzheimers, elderly, Esther Rantzen, Silver Line



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