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Manchester scientists search for Alzheimer's cause

07 Sep 2009

Scientists from the University of Manchester have been awarded £30,000 by the UK’s leading dementia research charity, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, to uncover the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team, led by Dr Cathy Tournier, aims to discover what is happening to brain cells during the disease. Their findings could pave the way for new treatments.

Dr Tournier who is at the Faculty of Life Sciences said: “We will be studying how nerve cells in the brain die during Alzheimer’s. We think that the cells experience a specific type of stress which can damage them, and we will test our theory. At the moment, the causes of Alzheimer’s are not well understood, and this is a major obstacle for the design of new drugs to treat dementia. Our studies will increase understanding of Alzheimer’s and what is happening to nerve cells in the brain.”

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said, “We are delighted to be funding what could be a breakthrough study in understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s. We hope it will open up doors to new treatments.

“Over 77,000 people in the North West have dementia and that number is set to rise as the population ages. It is cutting-edge research like this in Manchester that will lead us to new treatments that are desperately needed.

“We wish Dr Tournier and her team all the best with this exciting research.”

Notes for editors

For further information, photos, or to speak to either Rebecca Wood or Dr Tournier, please contact the charity’s Press Officer, Tim Parry on 01223 843304 or email

  • The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, was ranked with the elite group of research universities traditionally formed by the triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London in the recent Research Assessment Exercise 2008. The Faculty of Life Sciences was ranked third in the country by quality alone and when these results were aggregated, came second only to Cambridge – and ahead of Oxford - in terms of research power (Grade Point Average x number of staff). The University’s external research income is £263 million.
  • The Alzheimer's Research Trust provides free information on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias: phone 01223 843899 or visit The charity relies solely on public donations to fund its research.
  • Care services for dementia costs the UK more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.
  • The Alzheimer's Research Trust is currently supporting 120 projects across the country.