Alzheimer’s Research UK Funds Manchester University Project on Alzheimer’s Brain’s Molecular Map

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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shutterstock_135434942A research project designed to create a molecular map with thousands of proteins in the brain with Alzheimer’s disease, conducted by Dr. Richard Unwin, from The University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been granted a £30,000 ($48,600 dollars) award by Alzheimer’s Research UK. The project is expected to start this month, which is also World Alzheimer’s Month.

“I’m really pleased to have won this award, which will support an important new project in my laboratory. We’ve already started to study the metabolism of seven different areas of the brain in Alzheimer’s, that is the chemical reactions that generate the energy brain cells need to work, and we see some important changes associated with the development of the disease,” explained lead researcher Dr. Richard Unwin, who also works at the Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics (CADET).

The researcher believes that the new funding will enable him to expand his research “by looking at thousands of proteins in the brain to get even more detailed information about how these changes are controlled, and how the brain is working.” He expects that the project will ultimately provide data to create detailed maps of how Alzheimer’s affects the human brain.

Dr. Unwin will now start his work by examining how the disease affects the biology of different areas of the human brain, by mapping the relative amounts of over 3,000 proteins in the brain. The main purpose is to study its biology in detail, which is possible since he will analyze donated tissue from both Alzheimer’s patients and healthy patients. Unwin expects to improve the data about the brain, since currently most of the insight into brain activity comes from brain scans, and his project may enable physicians to better understand the brain function at a molecular level.

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“By comparing our information about the brain in Alzheimer’s to previous research measuring these changes in other conditions, we will be able to see if there is overlap between Alzheimer’s and conditions such as diabetes. Understanding what’s going wrong in the brain in Alzheimer’s at a molecular level will open up major opportunities for finding new treatments that are so urgently needed,” he explained.

As he believes his research project enable other researchers to conduct treatment breakthrough findings, Unwin is planning on sharing all of his data with the purpose of accelerating other dementia-based research projects around the world. “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,” stated the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr. Simon Ridley.

“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. While awareness of dementia has grown over recent years, funding for research still lags behind other common conditions. To deliver real improvements for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias we must see increases in funding for research. As a fundraising charity, we don’t receive any government support so we’re very grateful for our supporters who have made this research possible,” he added.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has been dedicated to supporting prevention, treatment, and research for a cure for dementia, especially among the UK, where about 500,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. The dementia research charity funds £22 million in projects, many of which are conducted at The University of Manchester.