UK scientists have taken another step forward in their search to identify the causes of Alzheimer’s. Important research which sheds new light on one of the key building blocks of the disease was presented at an Alzheimer’s Society research roadshow in Southampton on Thursday, 24 March.
Dr Amritpal Mudher from Southampton University was speaking about her findings on the protein tau, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Healthy nerve cells produce tau but in Alzheimer’s an abnormal form of tau is produced which does not function correctly. Dr Mudher has found that the abnormal tau does not only disrupt nerve cells, forming tangles that cause them to die, but it also affects any healthy tau around it. This prevents the cell from performing its normal functions.
Dr Susanne Sorensen, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, says
“Dr Mudher’s findings provide important information about how a key protein is involved in Alzheimer’s. It is particularly interesting to see this additional activity of abnormal tau as it helps to explain the effect tau has on nerve cells and why the cells die. The more we understand about how tau works the closer we get to a potential treatment.”
The audience, which included carers and people with dementia, also got the opportunity to learn about how Alzheimer’s Society funds research, and how they can get involved in the charity’s research programme.
Dr Sorensen continues,
“One of the aims of the event was to recruit new members to our Research Network, a group of carers, ex-carers and people with dementia who play a role in deciding what research we fund. We now need more people to get involved to ensure the Society’s research projects meet the needs and concerns of people with dementia and their carers. Please get in touch if you would like to help.”
Lynne Ramsay is a volunteer in the Research Network and former carer. She says,
“I think it is vital that carers take part in the research network. Being a carer can be isolating so it helps to be able to learn about the research process, become involved from home or at the locations and be able to influence in some small part. People affected by dementia bring a new fresh approach to the process which is a real benefit to the research team.”