dementia seeds

Study Design:

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are characterized by the accumulation of specific proteins in the brain. The identification of these proteins is necessary to make a definite diagnosis of AD, LBD or FTD but, unfortunately, it can be performed only on post-mortem brain tissue. Recently, a trace amount of these pathological proteins was found in the olfactory mucosa (brain region that detects smell; OM) of individuals with dementia. Since collection of OM is safe and minimally invasive, we will set up a diagnostic test on OM samples which will help discriminate those with AD, LBD and FTD-tau at early stages.

Olfactory dysfunction is a common symptom in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders, especially those affected by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Such impairment might arise from the accumulation of disease-related proteins in the OM. The identification of these proteins will be of fundamental importance to make the correct diagnosis at early stages of dementia, when symptoms are not specific and conventional diagnostic tests do not provide a clear answer.

Olfactory mucosa samples, collected from a well-characterized group of individuals with AD, LBD and FTD-tau, will be analyzed using an ultrasensitive test (RT-QuIC) that can detect the presence of a trace amount of specific pathological proteins, otherwise undetectable using conventional tests. Detection and identification of these proteins will allow us to identify the type of dementia at early stages when symptoms are not specific and might overlap. Results will be correlated with clinical, biochemical, neuropathological and MRI data.


TDR recognises that dementia research currently suffers from a lack of FOCUS , a lack of FUNDING, and a lack of TEAMWORK .

Following our Innovation Accelerator in July, Sir Jackie Stewart announced the RAD Seed Grant. This Grant provides funds for proof of concept for any idea targeting the acceleration of finding a prevention or cure for dementia.

Lack of funding: Despite costing more in health and social care than cancer and heart disease combined , dementia research receives only 10% of the total annual funding of cancer research . As a result of insufficient funding being distributed within a grant structure that pays salaries on a 2-3 year basis, most researchers work on temporary contracts. Researchers have to spend a large part of their time trying to secure funding to continue their research, rather than actually doing their research . For example, in Australia (an identical system to the UK) it is estimated that a total of 550 WORKING YEARS of research time was spent writing grants with only a 21% chance of being successful.

By 2050, 152 million people will be living with dementia globally, costing £2 trillion on the global economy by 2030. Neuroscientists from the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Exeter and a former F1 engineer have come together to radically revolutionise the way dementia research is done, taking inspiration from the speed of innovation, problem-solving and teamwork in F1. The team has established a new non-profit social enterprise called Transform Dementia Research (TDR).

The brief was to propose any idea whether it be to focus on a particular part of dementia science… or to facilitate better collaboration between disciplines and institutions….or may be to encourage and recruit more people to make their careers in this important area…. or raise public awareness to raise pressure on government to increase funding…or something that the RAD team has not yet even imagined.