Targeting the pathways of ageing and age related disease
The risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease increases with age. The proportion of the European population aged over 65 is currently 16%, but by 2030 it’s expected to climb to 25%, bringing with it a steep rise in incidences of neurodegenerative conditions, as well as the social and financial costs of treating them.
Animals, in particular pedigree breeds, can also suffer neurodegenerative disease, for example hereditary ataxia in Jack Russell terriers. We can often use information from human disease to understand these cases better – and vice versa.
Neurodegenerative diseases typically have a slow, insidious onset and the course of disease is often lengthy and highly distressing. Current treatment is mostly limited to perfunctory symptom control, often with undesirable side effects in both the short and long term.
As cases become more and more common, better strategies for prevention and treatment are urgently needed. Our researchers are meeting this challenge head on by developing a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of neurodegeneration, informing future diagnostic and drug development.
Unlocking the potential of the mitochondrion
One of our key areas of exploration is developing a more complete understanding of the cellular organelle that’s central to biological energy – the mitochondrion.
Our work is looking at normal mitochondrial biology, throughout the lifespan, across different species. We’re contrasting what we see in normal, healthy situations to what occurs in disease, with the objective of understanding the possibilities, flexibility and compensatory mechanisms in biological systems. In turn, this will pave the way for new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.
Read about how we’re fighting the effects of ageing
See how we’re linking Parkinson’s to changes in brain mitochondria