Thursday, 7 November 2013

New research into Dementia with Lewy Bodies

A research team at the University of Bath has found clues to treating patients with dementia and Parkinson’s.



Work by the team has identified a possible target to reduce the levels of a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is linked to both Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.




Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of dementia thought to affect more than 100,000 people in the UK, with symptoms including memory loss, fluctuations in attention and alertness, hallucinations, sleep disturbances and movement problems.



Research has already linked changes in the brain in people with dementia with Lewy bodies to those happening in the brain in Parkinson’s disease.



Now the team at the University of Bath has found another common link between the two - a protein called alpha-synuclein.



Professor David Brown from the department of Biology and Biochemistry said: “We know that alpha-synuclein forms abnormal clumps in the brain in dementia with Lewy bodies and in Parkinson’s disease.



“It is thought that one reason for the distinct pattern of symptoms in the two diseases is due to the different parts of the brain affected by these clumps.



“It had been suggested that a related protein, called beta-synuclein, may act to keep alpha-synuclein in check and so we set out to see whether this mechanism could be a target for new treatments.”
Researchers are now looking at the proteins in more detail to see if they can be used to design new treatments.



The work is funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK.



Alzheimer’s head of research Dr Simon Ridley said: “While these experiments are still at an early phase in cells in the laboratory, they reveal an important mechanism to take forward for further investigation.



“Identifying common pathways involved in multiple diseases, such as alpha-synuclein in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease, has the potential to benefit many people.
“We are pleased to have funded this important work, especially in a climate where funding for dementia research is in such short supply.”


 

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