Alois Alzheimer first described his eponymous disease a century ago, but there are still no effective treatments. For World Alzheimer’s Day, Professor Bart de Strooper, Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, asks why that is, and tells us how that might all be about to change.
Professor Bart de Strooper
In the early 1900s, a German neurologist called Alois Alzheimer became obsessed with studying an Asylum patient in her 50s, who had started to show unusual behavioural changes, including short-term memory loss. After her death he examined her brain and discovered structures known as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles – the hallmarks of what became known as Alzheimer’s disease. So why, when we’ve known about the disease for so long, are there still no treatments? Read more
The MRC has joined forces with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to create this picture of the dementia research ‘landscape’ in the UK, made up of people working together for a better future for people with dementia. Catherine Moody, MRC Programme Manager for Dementias initiatives, explains what we can see.
The dementias research landscape in the UK can look pretty complicated to those not directly involved in dementias research. It can even look bewildering to those who are!
But as our new picture shows, the jigsaw pieces do fit together. And without any one of the pieces, the picture isn’t complete.
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.