This September 200 of our supporters will Race the Tide in a tough 30 hour non-stop hike through the Northumbrian countryside. Their willpower and determination will raise an amazing £100,000 to defeat dementia. So what exactly can Alzheimer’s Research UK achieve with £100,000?
Uniting experts to unravel genetics
Thanks to £100,000 fundraised by staff at Iceland Foods Ltd, we helped unite genetic experts from the Universities of Bristol, Newcastle, Belfast, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Cardiff and King’s College London, to understand more about the genetic risk factors for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s – which affects those under 65 – are caused by a faulty gene passed down in families. But for others with the disease, there is no clear cause.
Following on from this work, the Nottingham-led team is now using DNA samples from volunteers with early-onset Alzheimer’s to see whether errors or changes in genes might also play a role in the late-onset form of the disease. Learning more about these genes is vital as they provide clues to the causes of Alzheimer’s, which can speed up the design of new drugs. There is still a lot to be discovered about the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and this project is helping to fit an important piece into this puzzle.
Funding the next generation
With one dementia researcher for every six working on cancer, we desperately need to support promising new scientists to build careers in the dementia research field. With £100,000, we can fund an entire three-year PhD Studentship, bringing new talent into dementia research and training up the world-leading experts of the future. In 2009 we funded PhD Student Lizzie Glennon at the University of Leeds and her project uncovered important insights into the role of a gene called BIN1 in Alzheimer’s. After completing her PhD, Lizzie secured a prestigious Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Fellowship and continues her important research at King’s College London.
Focusing in on dementia
Thanks to donations worth £100,000 researchers at the University of Southampton have been able to buy a state-of-the-art laser scanning microscope to help teams across the university to understand more about dementia. Confocal laser scanning microscopes are vital pieces of equipment in modern dementia research laboratories – using a highly focused laser beam to build up accurate 3D images of important structures inside nerve cells. The ability to accurately see the inner workings of a cell is crucial and this funding will have a lasting legacy by facilitating more and better dementia research in Southampton.