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Shedding light on dementia using mice

Researchers have found how high blood pressure changes the brain’s arteries, paving the way to develop a possible first treatment for one type of dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease, and occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the brain. Often, this is due to high blood pressure causing the arteries to narrow, although it was not known why.

EARA member the University of Manchester, UK, with the University of Vermont, USA, selected mice with high blood pressure and saw that the condition disrupted the ‘messaging’ within the brain’s artery cells that normally tells the vessels to widen to increase blood flow.

The findings, reported in PNAS, now have the potential to lead to treatments for vascular dementia by identifying drugs that can restore this messaging.

Prof Adam Greenstein at Manchester said: “Allowing blood to return as normal to damaged areas of the brain will be crucial to stopping this devastating condition in its tracks.”

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