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Prof David Rubinsztein at the University of Cambridge has been awarded over £500,000 from leading dementia research charity Alzheimer’s Research UK to fund vital dementia drug research.

The announcement comes during Dementia Action Week, which takes place from the 20th-26th of May 2019, a national initiative aiming to raise awareness of dementia and to encourage people to join efforts to help those affected by the condition.

According to the charity, without new breakthroughs, it is predicted that around one in three people born this year will develop some form of dementia in their lifetime.

Prof David Rubinsztein has spent years researching how the diseases that cause dementia develop in the brain. His team in Cambridge discovered that a cellular process called autophagy can clear away proteins that trigger these diseases.

Prof Rubinsztein is now leading research into ways to boost autophagy, a promising new approach to tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has awarded Prof Rubinsztein more than half a million pounds for a new project, taking a closer look at key proteins released by the body’s immune cells. These proteins represent a promising target for drugs that could speed up autophagy and help to clear harmful proteins from the brain.

Prof Rubinsztein commented: “Most diseases that cause dementia involve a build up of harmful proteins in the brain. For more than a decade there has been a focus on developing drugs that could tackle these proteins directly, but this approach hasn’t yet led to treatments that improve people’s symptoms.

“Meanwhile there has been huge progress in our understanding of the complex biology of diseases like Alzheimer’s. This has opened the door to a range of promising new approaches that could slow down damage to the brain and help limit the devastating impact these diseases have on people’s lives.”

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re getting closer to developing new dementia treatments and research like this will help speed up the search for life-changing breakthroughs.

“This progress is only possible thanks to the ingenuity of researchers like Prof Rubinsztein, the vital funds we receive from our supporters, and volunteers who participate in research.”

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