Common origins of Alzheimer's and other ageing disorders discovered

04 February 2010

For the first time the underlying origins of a family of ageing disorders - including Alzheimer's disease - are being linked in a remarkable research project now taking place at the University of Cambridge.

The chemist leading the 50-person multi-disciplinary team will tonight reveal at a Royal Society of Chemistry public lecture in London details of research at the university.

Professor Chris Dobson, a leading expert in the field of biomedical research, will explain how his team is linking Alzheimer's disease with other neurodegenerative disorders to understand how they act on the brain - and pave the way for better treatments.

Professor Dobson will also make the case for better government research funding to address what he has described as "a ticking time bomb" of age-related diseases.

People in the modern world will generally live significantly longer lives than their ancestors, but the incidence of neurodegenerative disorders is rising rapidly, bringing dramatically escalating healthcare demands and terrible distress for sufferers and their families and friends.

The precise biological equilibria in the human body mean we are all 'living life on the edge' so that the slightest disruption of balance potentially leads to illnesses like Alzheimer's, Professor Dobson, an eminent professor in the Department of Chemistry and Master of St John's College, will say in his lecture.

Professor Dobson will describe the revolutionary studies being carried out in Cambridge discovering how and why the phenomenon of "protein misfolding" gives rise to disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, CJD, Huntington's disease and even type 2 diabetes.

This remarkable cross-disciplinary project emerged because over 50 young graduate and post-doctoral scientists are working together to investigate diseases that are triggered by the failure of the body's proteins to adopt their correctly folded functional states.

In his talk at the Chemistry Centre in central London Professor Dobson will both describe the nature of the team's research and suggest why a detailed understanding of this family of debilitating, often fatal diseases is letting the team explore novel ways to combat their onset and progression.

The Royal Society of Chemistry can supply, on request, film showing work at the university's Fly Laboratory, the largest in Europe, in the Department of Genetics at Cambridge, and interviews with Professor Dobson and one of his chemistry department team, with bottles of flies used in the project.

Professor Dobson's talk will take place in the Chemistry Centre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, on 4 February at 6.30pm.  Please follow the link for more details.

Living Life on the Edge

Thursday 4 February 2010, 6.30pm An insight into how chemistry is helping to understand and prevent the escalating toll of many neurodegenerative diseases.

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Press Office
Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BA