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Frontotemporal dementia study receives funding boost

Frontotemporal dementia study receives funding boost
13th November 2013

A scientist based in Manchester has received £33,500 towards his study of frontotemporal dementia from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK.

Professor Stuart Pickering-Brown is looking to build on the discovery of an important gene made in 2011 so that new treatments for the condition can be created.

Frontotemporal dementia often affects people under the age of 60, with symptoms including personality and behavioural changes.

At present there are no treatments for the disease. However, two years ago a study identified a new gene, known as C90RF72, which is believed to play a major part in the onset of the condition.

Professor Pickering-Brown, who is based at the University of Manchester, will attempt to gain a better understanding of the gene and work out why it harms nerve cells.

"We’ve been using C9ORF72 as bait to fish out other proteins that bind to it and which could give us clues to its function," he said.

"So far we have found 12 other proteins that seem to work together with C9ORF72 and could help us unravel how it causes the disease.

"It’s a very exciting finding, but we needed vital funds to continue and we are grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK for enabling us to carry on our research."

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said that funding is vital if a cure for dementia is to be found and the charity is pleased to be helping Professor Pickering-Brown with his research.

Despite an estimated 820,000 people having some form of dementia in the UK at present, frontotemporal dementia is quite rare.

Sometimes known as Pick's disease or frontal lobe dementia, it is often hard to diagnose as its initial symptoms do not always include lapses of memory. Often, changes in behaviour are mistaken for depression, schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder.

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