Dementia affects over 830,000 people in the UK and approximately 36 million people worldwide. In addition to the huge personal suffering, dementia costs the UK economy £26 billion a year; more than cancer and heart disease combined.
SITraN has two groups focussing and collaborating on dementia:
The Neuropathology Group
The SITraN Neuropathology Group is studying the pathology of brain ageing and its relationship to the development of dementia.
Using donated brain tissue from a large population-based sample, the team has demonstrated that there is an overlap in the amounts of these two pathologies between people with and without dementia, particularly in older patients.
The group is therefore seeking to identify other cellular and molecular processes that also contribute to dementia aiming to refine understanding of the pathological basis of dementia and to identify potential new therapeutic targets.
The group has already discovered pathways that could serve as potential therapeutic targets. They have found defects in the insulin signalling pathway in human astrocytes, the cells surrounding neurons, and are now further investigating the role of astrocytes and defects in signalling pathways in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Further research addresses other risk factors involved in Alzheimer’s disease such as oxidative damage and vascular processes such as variations in blood flow to the brain, using novel imaging techniques in collaboration with Dr Jason Berwick from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology.
The Translational Neuropsychology Group
The Translational Neuropsychology Group (TNG) conducts research on the neuroscientific, clinical and behavioural aspects of neurodegenerative and neurological disorders. The team is using advanced neuroimaging techniques to visualise the dynamic processes in the brain and track the changes in functional brain networks in ageing individuals and patients with dementia.
While there is a main focus on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, they also study other disorders such as strokes and Parkinson’s disease.
Amongst multiple national and international collaborations, both the SITraN TNG and Neuropathology Group are working on major European projects led by the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Computational Imaging & Simulation Technologies in Biomedicine (CISTIB) for which they have received significant awards from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The ambitious aim of these projects is to enable more objective, earlier, predictive and individualised diagnoses and prognoses of dementias through imaging technology to improve healthcare of dementia patients across Europe and beyond.
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