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NEW RESEARCH TO DEVELOP FIRST TREATMENTS FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM DEBILITATING BRAIN DISORDER
Helping people suffering from brain disorders
Scientists at Keele University have been awarded funding from The British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help patients suffering from a debilitating brain disorder.
Led by Dr Ruoli Chen, the researchers are investigating a potential new treatment for vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) – a disorder of the mind that can be caused by a lack of oxygen and damage to brain cells.
Symptoms can range from forgetfulness to more serious problems with attention, memory, and language. The most serious form of VCI is vascular dementia, which can cause difficulty with basic tasks like getting dressed and bathing.
Examining new therapies
When blood supply and oxygen are reduced to the brain, a protein called hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) builds up that helps brain cells survive. The researchers will study the role of this protective system in the development of VCI, and examine whether activation of the protein using medication could be used as a new therapy to improve cognitive function in patients.
Dr Ruoli Chen, a senior lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology who is leading the study, said: "The study will bring valuable new insights to the research in vascular biology and has the potential for significant impact in multiple research areas related to cell biology, metabolism, and neuroprotection. The project will also train a postgraduate student to be a vascular biologist as well as an integrative pharmacologist that are much needed in the scientific community."
"This is an important step"
Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Vascular cognitive impairment affects a significant number of people as they get older. While we suspect that reduced blood flow leads to the brain becoming injured, we don't fully understand how this happens and we don't have any treatments that can stop it.
"This research aims to provide us with new knowledge that can help to develop the first treatments to protect the brain from injury due to reduced blood flow. Though this work is still at an early stage, this is an important step towards stopping more people developing cognitive problems in future."