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Scientists receive funding boost to further research into disease mechanisms of Alzheimer’s
Date:7/29/2011

Neuroscientists at the University of Bristol have received a major funding boost of 550,000 from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to continue their research into the pathological processes underpinning Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, affecting around 465,000 people in the UK.

The funding will be used to continue the team's latest research into how aspects of electrical signalling go wrong in the Alzheimer's disease brain. Their initial findings, which formed the basis of the application to the MRC, were published today [28 July] in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. The group is led by Professor Andy Randall and Dr Jon Brown at the University's School of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Like a computer the brain largely uses electrical signals to encode and convey information. In diseases of the nervous system this electrical signalling becomes disturbed in various ways such that information processing becomes altered and processes like memory are compromised.

The study has utilised a rodent model engineered to exhibit aspects of Alzheimer's disease pathology in the brain. By making recordings from single brain cells in the hippocampus (a brain area crucially involved in memory) the researchers have been investigating what is known as "neuronal excitability". This is a descriptor of how easy it is to produce a brief, but very large, electrical signal called an action potential. Action potentials occur in practically all neurones and are essential for communication within all circuits of the nervous system. They are triggered near the cell body and once produced rapidly travel through the massively branching structure of the neurone, along the way activating the synapses the neurone makes with the numerous other neurones to which it is connected.

The researchers have found that the neuronal excitability is substantially altered in the model of Alzheimer's disease compared to normal controls. For
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Contact: Caroline Clancy
caroline.clancy@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-8086
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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