A medical researcher from South Yorkshire has been awarded £900,000 to develop new treatments for dementia.
Dr Selina Wray, who has also just been named ‘pioneer of the year’ at the Women of the Year Awards run by Red Magazine, will use the money to fund a stem cell study finding ways of slowing or stopping conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Her team won the cash after showing they could transform skin cells from dementia patients into nerve cells in the lab.
They then were able to demonstrate that the cells grew connections, communicated with each other, and built up tau protein – similar to that seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The team are now set to expand their experiment, co-funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, to improve the discovery of new drugs.
Dr Wray, from Barnsley, said: “While dementia research has been in the shadows for many years, we’re starting to see growing efforts to coordinate research towards a cure.
“One important step in developing effective treatments for dementia is to recreate aspects of diseases that cause it in the laboratory.
“Now that we’ve shown our cells recreate the build-up of tau seen in the brain, we can start to scale this up so it can be used to screen for drugs that could stop tau in its tracks.”
Dr Wray, who is now based at University College London, is working alongside researchers from Strathclyde University in Scotland.