A dementia researcher based at The University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has landed a £30k award from Alzheimer’s Research UK for a pioneering research project getting underway this month.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and will see Dr Richard Unwin start an innovative project studying thousands of proteins in the brain to build a molecular map of what happens in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity, specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia. The charity currently funds £22m of dementia research across the UK including half a million pounds at The University of Manchester.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and is thought to affect around 500,000 people across the UK. With no treatments currently available to slow or stop Alzheimer’s, only to help with symptoms, there is an urgent need for research to understand what’s happening in the brain in the disease and how it can be stopped.

Dr Unwin plans to tackle the problem by looking in-depth at how Alzheimer’s changes the biology of different areas of the brain. He will do this by mapping the relative amounts of over 3000 proteins in the brain to study the biology of these areas in detail.

He will do this using tissue kindly donated by people with and without the disease. Doctors can currently study how the brain looks and how it functions on a large scale using brain scans but this project will allow researchers to build a bigger picture of how this important organ works on a very detailed molecular level.

The research team plans to make all their data from this project available for other dementia researchers around the world to make progress faster.

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This innovative Pilot Project has the potential to give us large amounts of detailed information about the brain and how it is affected in Alzheimer’s. The closer we can get to understanding what’s driving this disease, the better chance we have of designing effective treatments to help the thousands of people affected by it.”


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