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The work is the first to be funded by the Dementia Consortium – a unique £3m drug discovery collaboration between Alzheimer’s Research UK, MRC Technology and the pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Lilly. By uniting expertise, this focused cash injection will bridge the gap between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry in the search for new drugs to slow the development of Alzheimer’s.
Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola and colleagues at the University of Southampton will build on their current finding that a protein in the immune system called CSF1R could be the key to an effective new drug for the disease. Together with drug discovery experts at MRC Technology, they will seek to develop novel therapeutics to target the immune system – a double edged sword in the brain’s response to nerve cell death. Researchers now believe that Alzheimer’s disturbs the brain’s inflammatory response, causing the damage associated with the disease.
CSF1R is a key player in regulating the brain’s immune response. In their previous studies in mice, the Southampton team found that blocking CSF1R can dampen the inflammatory response to nerve cell death and improve symptoms in other neurodegenerative diseases. However, the compounds currently available to block CSF1R are not ideal to take into the clinic, due to unwanted effects and difficulties getting into the brain. This investment will allow the researchers to explore other, more targeted approaches to block CSF1R – important groundwork before any new treatment can go into testing in people.
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Source: University of Southampton