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Warwick Researchers Help Search for Causes of Alzheimers

University of Warwick scientists have received an £86,000 grant from the UK’s leading dementia research charity, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, to investigate the role of a protein in the brain which they believe may be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The protein called Brain Selective Kinase (BRSK) is important for controlling the growth of nerve cells in the brain and the communications between them. BRSK interacts with and modifies the Alzheimer’s disease related protein, tau.

The researchers will investigate the relationship between BRSK and tau during normal brain development and ageing versus models of Alzheimer’s disease.

The reasrch will be led by Professor Bruno Frenguelli from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Warwick who said, "A better understanding of the role of BRSK in Alzheimer’s could tell us how the disease starts and progresses through the brain. This might lead to better diagnostic tests or ways to measure the effectiveness of Alzheimer’s drugs. We may even find that BRSK could be a drug target itself."

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said, "We are excited to be funding this research. Understanding what it is that happens in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease could lead to a simple way to diagnose this disease in the early stages and would mean future treatments could be given before the brain is harmed.

"With the number of people with dementia set to double within a generation, we urgently need to find ways to tackle this awful disease."

The bulk of the research will be carried out by PhD student, Ceri Lyn-Adams, who has received a prestigious PhD Scholarship from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, and will also involve Dr Kevin Moffat at the University of Warwick and Dr Calum Sutherland from the University of Dundee.

Notes to Editors

Alzheimer’s Research Trust

• The Alzheimer’s Research Trust provides free information to the public on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and the treatments currently available: phone 01223 843899;

• The Alzheimer’s Research Trust, based in Great Shelford, is the UK’s leading research charity for dementia. It relies on donations from the public to fund its vital research.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

• There are almost 6000 people in Warwickshire with dementia.

• Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia

• Dementia research is severely under-funded – only £11 is spent on UK Alzheimer’s research annually per patient, compared with £289 for people with cancer.

• The number of people with dementia is projected to double within a generation.

• Care services for dementia costs the UK more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.

For further information please contact:

Prof Bruno Frenguelli
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Warwick Tel: 02476 150591

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick, 024 76 523708 Mobile 07767 655860

For more information from the Alzheimer's Research Trust Press Office contact 01223 843304 or visit our online newsroom at Images of Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust are available on request

PR115 PJD 18th December 2007