Mr Zeichner went to discover how the Alzheimer’s Research UK-run facility at the Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge is playing a key role in the fight against dementia.
The £2million centre was opened this year by the Great Abington-based charity and brings together leading stem cell researchers from the University of Cambridge and UCL (University College London).
Scientists there are using groundbreaking techniques to unravel the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and test potential new treatments.
During a tour of the centre, Mr Zeichner learnt how skin cells donated by volunteers with different forms of the disease play a crucial role in this research.
These cells are transformed by scientists into networks of functioning nerve cells, allowing them to replicate the disease in a dish. These cells can then be used to study how the disease develops, as well as to screen compounds that may help fight the disease.
“It’s fantastic to be able to find out more about this pioneering work which is playing such an important part in the fight against dementia,” said Mr Zeichner.
“Cambridge has long been at the forefront of scientific research, and the Stem Cell Research Centre is a shining example of this cutting-edge innovation.
“It’s great to see Alzheimer’s Research UK backing this and other crucial research efforts across the UK, and we also need an increase in Government funding for research to help our scientists make the strides forward that are needed.”
Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, leads to the loss of brain cells and impairs the brain’s ability to function properly. Early symptoms include problems with memory and thinking, but as the disease progresses, physical functions such as walking and even swallowing can be affected.
There are currently no treatments capable of stopping or slowing the disease, and scientists at the Stem Cell Research Centre, backed by the UK’s leading dementia research charity, are working to address this problem.
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