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Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that is the most common cause of dementia. Whilst most commonly associated with memory loss, dementia can also effect other brain functions such as speech, critical thinking and aspects of behaviour. It is thought that the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease are caused by damage to the connections between nerve cells (synapses) that allow them to communicate with one another, or loss of the nerve cells themselves. Important brain regions for memory, like the hippocampus, are particularly affected, to the extent that the reduction in size of these structures can be seen with the naked eye either in MRI scans or by examining the brain after death. It is thought that the build-up of clumps of toxic proteins “Abeta” and “tau” in the brain may be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Our group, and others, are trying to understand how changes in these proteins lead to the loss of synapses and nerve cells. By understanding the key processes happening early in the disease, we hope to identify ways that we may prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease.