Changes to eye cells could help diagnose and track Alzheimer’s disease

Posted under Blog on November 29th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Scientists say that changes to specific cells in the retina could potentially help diagnose and track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team from Georgetown University Medical Center found that genetically engineered mice with Alzheimer’s lost thickness in this layer of eye cells. As the retina is a direct extension of the brain, the team say the loss of retinal neurons could be related to the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer’s.

The findings were presented at the US Society for Neuroscience conference which took place in Sand Diego earlier this month.

The team found looked at the thickness of the retina in an area that had not previously been investigated. They found that a loss of thickness occurred only in mice with Alzheimer’s.

Dr Scott Turner, director of the memory disorders program at Georgetown University Medical Center, said: “This suggests a new path forward in understanding the disease process in humans and could lead to new ways to diagnose or predict Alzheimer’s that could be as simple as looking into the eyes.”

Dr Turner suggested that treatments developed for Alzheimer’s could also be useful for treating glaucoma but emphasized that it was still speculation to say that retinal thinning could predict impending Alzheimer’s disease.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Laura Phipps, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Diagnosing Alzheimer’s with accuracy can be a difficult task, which is why it’s vital to continue investing in research to improve diagnosis methods”.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's diagnosis, Alzheimer's Research UK, Georgetown University

New Drug Discovery Institute announced

Posted under Blog on November 22nd, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A UK dementia research charity is to launch the Drug Discovery Institute to further research into treatments for dementia, the first of its kind anywhere in Europe.

The announcement by Alzheimer’s Research UK has been welcomed by dementia research experts from around the world.

The Institute will integrate pioneering basic science, clinical expertise and patient involvement.

The charity has called for top universities from around the UK to host the Institute and it’s planned that its lead scientists will be in place by next year.

Launching the Institute, Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK, described it as the “missing link between the UK’s considerable expertise in fundamental science, and industry who can discoveries into benefits for people with dementia”.


Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's Research UK, Drug Discover Institute

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

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