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Research

It is estimated that one million people in the UK will be living with dementia by 2025, a number set to double by 2050. Finding an effective cure for these devastating conditions therefore represents a pressing global healthcare challenge.

​Our lab is taking a pragmatic approach and investigating what is arguably the root cause of disease onset in most neurodegenerative diseases: protein accumulation in the brain. 

The glymphatic system is a relatively recently discovered pathway in the brain for fluid movement and solute clearance. What is of particularly important about this route of fluid flux is that us and others have shown previously that it is involved in clearing away proteins that are known to build up in the brain, for example amyloid-β, tau, and α-synuclein, in neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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We hypothesis therefore, that if we are able to therapeutically speed up the function of this brain cleaning pathway in some way, we might be able to clear away these toxic protein accumulations. Or even better, prevent them from building up in the first place.
 

The overall aim of our work therefore is to understand the relationship between the glymphatic clearance system and protein accumulation in the brain, learn about the ways that we can alter the system’s function, and see whether we can alleviate or prevent protein accumulation in the brain. 

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Our lab was started in 2019, upon receipt of research fellowship grants awarded to Dr Ian Harrison. Since then, we’ve grown, and expanded our research base, aiming to understand the mechanistic basis and role of the glymphatic system in the clearance of aggregate-prone proteins in the brain.

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Funding

Our research is made possible thanks to generous funding from the below organisations.

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Alzheimer's Research UK

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Parkinson's UK