A Scots neuroscientist is aiming to find out why a protective barrier in the brain becomes leaky in people with Alzheimer’s, allowing toxic molecules to enter.

Dr Fiona McLean, from the University of Dundee, hopes her study will provide insights that could lead to treatments being developed which can slow down, stop or even reverse this happening.

Amyloid is a hallmark protein that builds up in the brains of people with

Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia.

Researchers think that this sets off other damaging processes, which lead to symptoms such as memory loss and confusion. 

In 80 to 90 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases, amyloid clumps are also found embedded in blood vessels within the brain.

A specialised group of cells form a barrier between the blood vessels and the nerve cells, called the “blood-brain barrier”, which determines what gets in and what doesn’t.

In people with Alzheimer’s, this barrier deteriorates, allowing toxic substances to enter.

HeraldScotland:

Dr McLean’s research will look at when and how the build-up of amyloid causes the blood-brain barrier to break down. 

She has been given a £235,000 grant to carry out the pioneering study as part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s £2million commitment to fund 15 new research projects, launched to coincide with the start of Dementia Awareness Week.

READ MORE: Dementia will be 'rare condition' within 20 years says Scots expert 

Dr McLean said: “Funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK has allowed me to develop my research that could ultimately help the search for future dementia treatments.”

Meanwhile, Scots living with dementia, along with their carers, are being invited to join a new national advisory panel set up to help inform services for people affected by the disease.

The Scottish Government is launching an application scheme, with the expectation that the new panel will be established before the end of the year.

Alzheimer Scotland is campaigning for fairer care home fees for people with advanced dementia who require 24-hour care, which is backed by The Herald.

READ MORE: SNP accused of breaking pre-election pledge to tackle 'dementia tax' 

The charity says ministers in Scotland have failed to address a “massive inequity” in health and social care which sees 10,000 people with advanced dementia pay a combined total of almost £51m a year for their care.

A landmark report published in 2019, after a working group led by former First Minister Henry McLeish was established, warned that sufferers were being let down by a system that classes them as having social care and not health care needs.

It means they are not eligible to have their care costs met by the NHS in the way that people with other progressive terminal illnesses are.

HeraldScotland:

The Scottish Government is due to unveil the blueprint for a new National Care Service which Alzheimer Scotland hopes will lead to a change in how dementia care is funded.

Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart, said: “The voice of experience is a crucial part of our policy making process, and making sure that it is factored in as early as possible in making important decisions is key to improving services across the country."

To apply to be part of the lived experience panel or for more information, send an email to dementiapolicy@gov.scot.