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Teaching old drugs new tricks

Research published today, funded by the MRC* and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Drug Discovery programme, has made important progress in the search for new treatments for dementia by re-purposing old drugs. Dr Louise Walker, Research Communications Officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, spoke to the scientist who led the research, Professor Giovanna Mallucci at the MRC Toxicology Unit, to find out more.

Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain diseases are characterised by the presence of misfolded proteins in the brain. These proteins are thought to have toxic effects on brain cells, but exactly how they contribute to dementia still remains a mystery.

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Autism intervention: steps in the right direction

In 2016, the results of a trial led by Professor Jonathan Green from the University of Manchester showed long-term improvement of autism symptoms in children for the first time. But what if we could reduce the severity of these symptoms by acting even earlier? In National Autism Awareness Month, Jonathan describes why the results of his new collaborative study give cause for optimism.

Jonathan with one of his study participants. Image credit: Jonathan Green

Intense scientific work to understand autism and its causes has continued ever since it was first identified over 70 years ago. But good quality research to develop effective interventions has only really accelerated since the turn of the century.

My research focuses on helping parents of children with autism communicate with their child. We work with parents, using video feedback techniques, to help them understand and respond to their child’s communication style.

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Mental health research: working it out together

One of the ways the MRC supports scientists in delivering world-leading research is by holding workshops where researchers can meet with our programme teams to discuss the MRC’s aims and ambitions for their area of work. As we prepare to publish our updated Strategy for Lifelong Mental Health Research, Dr Kathryn Adcock, the MRC’s Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health looks forward to the global mental health workshop coming in June.

Close-up of group of people in discussion while sitting at an office table

As with so much in life, the best ideas often emerge when we come together. It’s the meeting of minds that enables those ideas to grow, and dialogue and debate that nurtures those ideas, shaping the world of tomorrow.

This is especially true for research. The MRC fervently believes that the best research often comes about when researchers collaborate, irrespective of science area and increasingly, irrespective of geographical boundary.

Social media provides a terrific virtual way to bring scientists together, whether it’s announcing new programmes and research calls on twitter, or commenting at the foot of blog posts like this one. But as helpful as the virtual world can be, there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. Read more