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£228,000 award to assist research

Resource type: News

Belfast Telegraph |

A QUEEN’S University academic has been awarded £228,000 to further his research into how Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Dr Stephen Todd, who works in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Queen’s, has been announced as the only Beeson Ireland 2008 scholar after a transatlantic panel of peers reviewed his proposal. The Beeson Award is the highest international accolade in Geriatric Medicine and is made to “high calibre individuals seeking to advance research into ageing and medicine for older people”. The funding is being provided by the American Foundation for Ageing Research (AFAR) and the Atlantic Philanthropies. The grant will allow him to continue research showing that an enzyme called beta-secretase had higher levels of activity in patients with Alzheimer’s compared to older people without the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to one million by 2025. Some 16,000 of those are in Northern Ireland. Dr Todd’s award will be used for a three-year project entitled Investigation of Platelet beta-secretase Activity in Alzheimer’s Disease. The Bangor man, who graduated from Queen’s in July with an MD, said: “The grant involves retesting as many as possible of 400 previous volunteers five years after their initial test. “We hope to determine if the initial level of beta-secretase activity influenced how the disease progressed over that time, or for people who had no memory problems initially, if it predicts subsequent development of memory problems. “This could be helpful to doctors in the future who may be able to advise patients and their relatives with greater accuracy how their disease will progress.” Beta-secretase is a key molecule in forming plaques which are thought to be crucial in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The funding will also enable the team to examine beta-secretase activity in people just newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, who are about to start being treated with a dementia drug. The team aims to determine if the level of the enzyme can predict response to the drugs. About 150 people will be recruited for this part of the study.

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pensioners, Queen's University, senior citizens