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(from left) Ralf Schwörer, Peter Tyler and Olga Zubkova from the Ferrier Research Institute. Photo: Victoria University of Wellington.

Transcontinental Alzheimer’s research team wins funding

A team comprising researchers from New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington and the UK's University of Liverpool has been awarded grants totaling almost $815,000 to explore a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Just over half of the money has been pledged from the UK's Alzheimer's Society, closely followed by KiwiNet's PreSeed Accelerator Fund and supplemented by the New Zealand Federation of Women's Institutes.

The team is made up principally of professor Peter Tyler, Dr Olga Zubkova and Dr Ralf Schwörer from Victoria University and professor Jerry Turnbull from Liverpool.

“New drugs that can effectively halt or delay the progression of the disease are urgently needed and this funding is invaluable to progressing our work,” Tyler said. “Our molecules are targeted against the formation of these compounds called amyloids. Amyloids disrupt the normal function of cells, leading to the progressive memory loss that is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The molecules involve sophisticated chemistry processes and have potential to slow or stop progression of the disease. No one else in the world is using this heparan sulfate approach.”

Zubkova added: “We also designed a more simplified core for the molecules by replacing sugar fragments with smaller and cheaper carbon versions. The new products will be easier to make, and allow us to prepare larger amounts for testing.”

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