A JOINT Scottish and US research project into Alzheimer’s treatments is to benefit from £450,000 of funding.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh are leading the three-year project which will investigate connections between brain nerve cells and how they communicate with each other.
Memory loss is caused by the breakdown of the nerve connections, known as synapses, and the researchers hope to find ways of protecting them and preserving memory.
The funding has been awarded by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Scottish Government, who will each contribute £225,000.
The scientists will investigate whether two proteins called amyloid beta and tau, which accumulate in the brain in Alzheimer’s cases, work together to cause synapses to degenerate.
The scientists will test treatments on the proteins and examine donated brain samples from people who died with the disease.
The project is being led by Dr Tara Spires-Jones from the Centre of Cognitive and Neural Systems at the University of Edinburgh and involves scientists at the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls, Montana, and Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.
She said: “We are thrilled to have secured this funding, which will allow us to gain a much clearer understanding of the mechanisms at play in Alzheimer’s disease.
“There is still much we need to learn about the basic biology of Alzheimer’s in order to understand how to treat the disease and the knowledge we gain from our research should inform clinical trials for much-needed new treatments.
“Our project will take a very collaborative approach and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to work closely with scientists from other institutions to move our research forward.”
Public health minister Michael Matheson said: “High-quality care requires a strong scientific basis and Dr Spires-Jones’ research aims to provide just that - we are therefore very happy to be collaborating with Alzheimer’s Research UK to support her exciting work.”