UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Professor Nick Fox speaks about trial in early onset familial Alzheimer's disease at UCL

13 March 2015

Early onset Alzheimer's occurs in people under 65 and represents fewer than 5% of people with the condition. In a few hundred families worldwide scientists have pinpointed a few rare gene mutations which trigger the disease across many generations.

Dozens of affected families in the UK are taking part in research at UCL Institute of Neurology.

These families provide us with rare and valuable insights into the earliest changes that occur in the brain, even before symptoms emerge. The thing that both I and the families would like to know is whether we can find a treatment which stops, slows or prevents the disease. At present all we can do is alleviate the symptoms. Professor Nick Fox, Professor of Neurology, Director of the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology

Professor Fox, speaking at this week’s ARUK conference hosted by UCL, added

The ARUK conference brought some of the world's leading scientists in dementia research together with over 500 students, clinicians and researchers - all focused on making progress in the fight against these devastating diseases. Chris' story is an inspiration for all our efforts.

One of the participants in the trial is Chris Graham, a former soldier who has early onset Alzheimer's disease, which he inherited from his father who died when he was aged just 42. The gene mutation carried by Chris is PSEN-1, the same gene affecting Julianne Moore’s character in the film "Still Alice"

Like others in the research group, Chris's health is being monitored by the team at UCL. He undergoes brain scans which will track the deterioration and progression of his disease. He also has memory tests and has undergone lumbar punctures to remove fluid which tests for the build-up of damaging proteins in his cerebrospinal fluid.

This trial follows the recent announcement of the Government’s investment of £300m in dementia research as part of a new five-year strategy, and the ARUK £30m Drug Discovery Alliance, launching three flagship Drug Discovery Institutes.

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