The Lewy Body Society, a charity dedicated to tackling Lewy body dementia (the second most common form of dementia in older people), has announced the latest recipients of its grants programme. The charity is awarding four grants totalling £464,000 for projects at Newcastle University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Cambridge and University of Southampton.
This allocation is the largest funding round in the charity’s history and takes the total funding it has provided over the last 15 years to nearly £2.2 million. All the charity’s funding is received from voluntary donations and earned income, and it receives no government funding.
The funded projects include a study which uses a new brain imaging technique to examine cells deep in the brain and a project that will look at links between the immune system and the development of Lewy body dementia.
Jacqui Cannon, Chief Executive of the Lewy Body Society, said:
“The UK is at the forefront of global efforts to understand Lewy body dementia better. These studies, which involve new techniques and innovative research methods, will help extend that knowledge further. In a very strong field of applicants, these four studies stood out to our independent assessors as making the biggest difference to our mission to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Lewy body dementia.
“None of this would be possible without our incredible supporters and fundraisers who undertake amazing efforts every year, raising thousands to support our research programme. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in a challenge or donated. You will be helping generations of people affected by Lewy body dementia in future.”
The four studies are:
- PathO-Network Dysfunction driving clinical phenotypes in Lewy body Related diseases (PONDER study), Newcastle University
Analysis of brain signal data and MRI scans from people with Lewy body dementia (LBD) to investigate if the brains of people with LBD are more ‘excitable’ and whether their brain networks are more disconnected and relate these changes to the symptoms they experience. This will help us understand more about the causes of LBD, develop new ways in which to diagnose and monitor the condition, as well as potentially provide new treatment avenues.
- Creation of a longitudinal clinicopathological dataset through a combination of biobank data and electronic healthcare records, Queen’s University Belfast
Lewy body disease (LBD) is caused by abnormal clumps of protein developing in the brain. It is thought that clumps first develop in places outside the brain – like skin or bowel – before spreading upwards into the brain. This study will combine samples stored in archives (biobanks) with healthcare records of the patients from whom samples were taken. We think that our results will show that a larger study, in which samples are analysed in detail, would be worthwhile in understanding how LBD develops. Doing so could help us understand how LBD develops and allow us to find new ways to detect and treat the disease.
- Imaging neuromelanin using magnetic resonance imaging in dementia with Lewy bodies, University of Cambridge
In this study, we aim to apply a new, non-invasive brain imaging technique called “Neuromelanin Magnetic Resonance Imaging” (NM-MRI), which will measure the loss of certain cells deep in the brain in areas known to be affected in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). If NM-MRI can capture early changes in these brain regions in people with DLB, it would be a highly promising tool to support early diagnosis and help with better monitoring of disease progression and treatment outcomes.
- Determining the effect of peripheral inflammation on disease progression in dementia with Lewy bodies, University of Southampton
This study aims to improve our understanding of the links between the immune system (and events that activate the immune system in the blood, such as infections) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and hopes to identify immune markers that predict the speed of progression of DLB. This could benefit patients and carers by enabling doctors to provide a clearer idea of how their dementia will progress, allowing them to better prepare for the future. It would also help with the development of new treatments.
About the Lewy Body Society
The Lewy Body Society is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities. The process for awarding grants is run independently by a Specialist Advisory Committee chaired by Dr Jill Rasmussen and comprised of a panel of experts. Each grant application is considered by the panel and reviewed by independent experts and lay representatives. Further information is available on the research section of our website.
About our researcher
Alzheimer’s Society Junior Research Fellow
Elijah is a post-doctoral researcher investigating the interplay between distinct pathological processes (e.g. amyloid burden and cortical thinning) and how they map onto clinical impairment in Down’s Syndrome.
Specifically in the use of multivariate approaches to delineate the spatially-distributed relationships between components of amyloid burden and patterns of grey matter atrophy.
In addition, he uses network mapping techniques and graph theory to investigate the extent to which the connectional architecture of structural networks predicts the topography of amyloid deposition in Down’s syndrome.