SCIENTISTS could be a step closer to preventing dementia thanks to a computer model designed in the North East.
Dr Carole Proctor, of Newcastle University, used computer simulations to shed new light on the processes which cause brain cells to die in Alzheimer’s and other illnesses.
Her research suggested that a simple healthy diet and exercise could help arm our brains against damage. Now, it is hoped her study could be the key to developing a treatment for the illness.
Dr Proctor said: “The predictions made by our computer model now need to be tested in the lab, but we hope our findings will give researchers some important new leads to follow.
“Being able to simulate the processes involved in dementia allows us to better focus our research, giving us a better chance of finding ways of intervening to prevent dementia.
“Our findings suggest that damage from free radicals plays a key role in the build-up of toxic proteins in the brain.
“We now need to see more research to examine whether reducing this damage – for example, by taking moderate exercise and eating a healthy diet – could help protect against dementia.
“Research is the only way we will defeat dementia, and I hope these findings will take us further towards that goal.”
Dr Proctor’s research – published in the journal PLoS ONE – investigated how toxic proteins build up on nerve cells in the brain, stopping them working properly. In Alzheimer’s disease, the culprit proteins are called amyloid and tau.