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Unlocking the dementia code
A SOUTHAMPTON scientist has been awarded thousands of pounds to try and unlock the secrets of dementia with the hope of discovering new treatments.
Mariana Vargas-Caballero, who has set up her own independent lab at the University of Southampton, will use the £58,000 to study the chemical signals of Alzheimer’s disease.
With help from PhD student Sarmi Sri, Miss Vargas-Caballero will look in detail at the breakdown in communication between nerve cells which causes memory loss.
They will focus on a hallmark Alzheimer’s protein called amyloid, which builds up in the brain during the disease. They believe this could interfere with the signals that pass between the nerve cells, leading to memory loss.
She said: “We are really interested in whether there is a time window during which nerve cells are particularly vulnerable to damage.
“Hopefully, our findings will inform new ways to reverse or prevent nerve cell damage in Alzheimer’s, to improve symptoms or slow the disease altogether.
“We are very grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK for the opportunity to study this important area.”
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: “Understanding the early changes in Alzheimer’s disease is important because this is when potential new treatments are likely to be most effective. There is still a lot we do not know about how and why nerve cells die in Alzheimer’s but this knowledge could help us take a crucial step forwards.”
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