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Dementia researchers awarded grant for vital equipment

Dr Pat Kehoe

Dr Pat Kehoe

Press release issued: 16 May 2011

University of Bristol researchers will benefit from new high-tech equipment thanks to a £48,000 grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

The money has paid for a state-of-the-art gene analysis machine, which was installed this month, to help University researchers in their search to find the causes of dementia.

The 16-strong team is undertaking a range of projects investigating the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. The new machine will allow the scientists to measure the extent to which various genes contribute to the levels of amyloid and tau – two hallmark proteins found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

The researchers are trying to find out how these proteins are formed and broken down, how they damage brain cells and how they might cause problems with blood flow in the brain. It is hoped their work will provide crucial new information in the search for treatments for dementia, which affects more than 4,000 people in Bristol alone and 820,000 people across the UK.

Dr Pat Kehoe, HEFCE Senior Research Fellow in the School of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol, who secured the funding, said: “We are very grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK for this funding, which is being used to replace an old machine that has sadly become obsolete. We are lucky that our team at Bristol has grown, with new lines of research beginning to uncover some of the workings of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. We desperately need this new equipment to support our latest projects and help us find new treatment targets for dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter Dene Ferris, of Headley Park in Bristol, welcomed the funding. Dene will be fundraising for the charity during his year as captain of Woodspring Golf Club in Long Ashton, after watching both his grandmothers, Alice Ferris and Agnes James, succumb to Alzheimer’s. Agnes died just two years ago at the age of 91, while Alice died ten years ago.

Mr Ferris said: “It was incredibly sad to see my grandma Agnes, who I was very close to, become more and more confused as she gradually lost a lifetime of memories. She was a real character, always a hard worker and the first to offer a helping hand to people, and it was awful to watch her deteriorate.

“I chose to support Alzheimer’s Research UK because I know dementia research is desperately underfunded, and it’s great to see money going to such important research right here in Bristol.”

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of the team in Bristol, which could give us vital new evidence in our efforts to defeat dementia. It’s thanks to the generosity of supporters like Dene that we are able to provide funding for much-needed research projects and equipment such as this.

“Research is the only answer to dementia, and we need to see much more investment in projects like those underway in Bristol if we are to find a treatment that is so urgently needed.”


Further information

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia.

To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting or calling 01223 843899.

We are currently supporting dementia research projects worth £17 million in leading Universities across the UK.

The University of Bristol is consistently ranked among the leaders in UK higher education. Research-intensive and with an international reputation for quality and innovation, the University has 17,000 students from over 100 countries, together with more than 5,500 staff. In terms of the number of applications per undergraduate place, Bristol is arguably the most popular university in the country.

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