Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 18:52 UK

Major discovery in dementia study

Carer
One in three people over 65 will end their lives with dementia

Scientists at a Nottingham university have made what they are calling a "crucial breakthrough" in treating dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have genetically created Parkinson's disease and dementia in mice and then mapped their brains.

They now hope to develop more targeted drug treatments to treat the condition.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, about 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia.

Ultimately it could help lead to a treatment for the thousands of people living with this disease
Dr Susanne Sorensen, Alzheimer's Society

The researchers produced the mice with the type of brain degeneration (nerve cell loss) seen in Lewy body disease and Parkinson's disease.

Lewy body disease causes hallucinations, trembling and progressive memory loss.

The findings of the study have been published in America.

'Major breakthrough'

Prof John Mayer, of Nottingham University, said: "Current drugs given to people with Lewy body and Parkinson's disease simply treat the symptoms.

"This model is the first platform to understand how the brain cell deterioration takes place. We will use this model to identify targets for new drugs to slow or prevent the disease."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, from the Alzheimer's Society, said the university's research was a major breakthrough.

"The first mouse model of Lewy body dementia is a major breakthrough and will be an important tool for dementia research," she said.

"It will aid our understanding and ultimately it could help lead to a treatment for the thousands of people living with this disease."

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Research is carried out examining the brains of mice




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