Lancaster University

Defying Dementia campaign

The brains of people with Alzheimer’s display two notable phenomena – plaques (consisting of amyloid protein) and tangles (consisting of tau protein). Alzheimer’s research tends to focus on either plaques or tangles.

Professor David Allsop was the first scientist to investigate the link between ‘senile plaques’ in the brain and Alzheimer's disease. He developed a drug that blocks the formation of these 'plaques”. Lancaster researchers have come to realise that an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease will probably involve attacking both plaques and tangles at the same time.  Professor Allsop and his team are now working to understand whether the formation of tau tangles can be blocked using a similar approach to the one that we have applied to the amyloid plaques.

This research led to the launch of Lancaster University’s Defying Dementia fundraising campaign, founded by Dr Penny Foulds. A former science teacher, Penny became interested in Alzheimer's after her grandparents died from it so she did a PhD at Lancaster University where she is now an honorary researcher.

Defying Dementia has been embraced by the local community and thanks to monumental fundraising efforts to support the neuro-degenerative research at the University, Professor Allsop and his team are working towards producing a dual-action drug with far greater chance of success in clinical trials.

The momentum built up by Defying Dementia has led to the creation of some great community resources. There are now five Dementia Hubs across the region. The monthly Bay Dementia Hub serving Lancaster and Morecambe was the first open access community based service for residents with dementia, their families, friends and carers as well as people who might be worried about their memory. The Hub offers a range of information and guidance delivered in partnership with local organisations. There are also Dementia Hubs in Kendal, the Fylde Coast, and Hyndburn. Another initiative is Freshers’ Young Onset Cafés. These get-togethers fill a real gap in services for younger people with young onset neurological conditions. There are six across North Lancashire and South Cumbria, and the initiative is growing with new cafes opening.

The first Defying Dementia Fundraising and Community Shop was opened in Lancaster in 2018 by Linda Warrington whose mother died from the disease and who became involved with the Defying Dementia Campaign as a result.

Find out more about the Defying Dementia work