Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers in our Department are embarking on a £50,000 study to develop treatments for dementia. The funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK will kick off new drug discovery efforts that specifically target dementia with Lewy bodies.

A cortical section with synuclein aggregates
A cortical section with synuclein aggregates

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the third largest cause of dementia in the UK. As well as more common dementia symptoms, such as memory loss and thinking problems, people with DLB often experience specific symptoms including visual hallucinations, sleep disturbances and movement difficulties.

We want to test new experimental drugs on brain cells that have been created in the lab from skin cells. This process uses a Nobel-prize winning stem cell technique that is transforming our ability to study human nerve cells in detail in the laboratory. This new funding will allow us to ‘shortlist’ drugs that hold potential for tackling DLB –  important groundwork to ignite drug discovery efforts for the disease.
- Dr George Tofaris

These symptoms arise due to the build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein into toxic clumps, which accumulate in the brain and damage nerve cells. While some of the memory problems can be managed to an extent with current symptomatic treatments used for Alzheimer’s, the more unique symptoms remain untackled and there are no treatments that slow or halt the disease itself.

Dr George Tofaris, Associate Professor of Neurology, will meet this challenge head-on, by searching for new drugs that could kick-start the destruction of alpha-synuclein. Using innovative techniques to study nerve cells in the laboratory, the team will test a large number of possible drugs that stimulate the cell’s waste disposal process – critical for keeping alpha-synuclein levels in check. This early-phase drug discovery project will zero in on drugs that are safe and can reduce alpha-synuclein levels in nerve cells. These initial steps are critical in the hunt for treatments in the clinic.

Read more about Alzheimer's Research UK

Read more about George Tofaris and his work

Similar stories

Evaluating risk to people with epilepsy during the COVID-19 pandemic - study wins international prize

In May 2020 our researchers initiated a global project to investigate how COVID-19 has affected people with epilepsy, their carers and health care workers.

New European initiative to accelerate the discovery and validation of biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases

Members of the European Platform for Neurodegenerative Diseases (EPND) will establish a collaborative platform for efficient sample and data sharing, linking existing European research infrastructures to accelerate the discovery of biomarkers, new diagnostics and treatments for the benefit of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Major research network to investigate body clock and stroke

The University of Oxford is part of a new international research network to investigate the interactions between the biology of the body's internal clock and the disordered physiological processes associated with stroke.

COVID-19 infection has greater risk than vaccines of causing very rare neurological events

Research reveals risks of developing neurological complications following a positive COVID-19 PCR test, or a first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations.

Mapping uncharted networks in the progression of Parkinson’s

A major new $9 million project funded by the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative will map the original circuits vulnerable to Parkinson’s on an unprecedented scale. The project is a collaboration between core investigators Stephanie Cragg, Richard Wade-Martins, and Peter Magill at Oxford, Mark Howe at Boston University and Dinos Meletis at the Karolinska Institutet, as well as collaborators Yulong Li at Peking University and Michael Lin at Stanford University.