This week we have had the special opportunity to get up and close with AD and Dementia research and with the people behind it. I sought out and spoke with a young and passionate researcher and medical student, who is quickly developing a name for himself as one of the brightest minds in research, Asif Machhada (B. Sc. (Hons), Ph.D. Final year student at UCL Medical School, UCL Centre for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Neuroscience, UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging). I became interested in Machhada’s research when I realised that he was studying both the heart and the brain and their affects on each other, more specifically, his most recent research on Glymphatic clearance impaired in a mice model of tauopathy.
In laymen’s terms – Tauopathies are types of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
We have been exploring throughout our blogs all of the new research surfacing about certain proteins and their affects on the onset of Dementia and AD. Machhada’s research is another piece of the puzzle.
In all honesty, reading Machhada’s research was no easy task and I am not ashamed to say that most of it went right over my head. So when questioned, he was able to provide a much simpler explanation.
“The long story short is that there are spaces within the brain, full of fluid, previously assumed to simply cushion the brain from impact. Recent evidence now suggests that this is a clearance system for toxins and was thus coined the ‘Glymphatics system”. At our UCL imaging facility, we’ve shown that this is defective in brains where there is too much tau protein (one most commonly found in Alzheimer’s).”
As that quantified the hundreds of paper sitting next to me quite easily, we moved on to what it was that drove Machhada to choose his path in cardiology and neurology and his dissertation thesis as a PhD student.
“As a medical student I had the opportunity to complete the third year of a medical physics degree. This made me develop a broad interest in both the brain and the heart and the application of genetic and imaging tools to better understand the connections between the two. I decided to bring all the different scientific elements together as part of my PhD.”
I then proceeded to further discuss the research at hand and why he headed that direction and where his findings will go next.
“We followed the trend in research, but stuck to our areas of expertise and found what we found. We’ve so far only presented the data at conferences worldwide, including the Alzheimer’s association international conference in Washington and the World Molecular imaging congress in New York. It’s will be published soon, so watch this space!”
I commented on the trend in research and how it seems so interesting that only a month or so ago, I was writing a blog about the Kinase38y protein and its presence being a cause for the tangles and plaques that cause Alzheimer’s to form.
His answer was, “It’s like the chicken and the egg. There can be a number of different proteins that are accumulating in Alzheimer’s and indeed many other forms of dementia. What we as scientists and clinicians need to tease out is, if proteins that are ‘clogging’ up the glymphatic system are causing even more of these and other proteins/tangles collecting in the brain to form, or is the Glymphatic system not working as it should in the first place, meaning certain proteins are less likely “flushed” from the brain.”
As a research scientist and as a doctor; as well as based on these findings stated above, I asked Machhada what would he say to those who live a life afflicted by Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Health promotion is always key to all disease prevention. My main advice with respect to dementia is controlling the risk factors that would damage blood vessels everywhere, including your brain! Get ahead of your blood pressure and cholesterol (you can definitely get help from your GP to manage this). Keeping both the body and mind active is also key!
With regards for getting the best “Glymphatic clearance”, well the answer is most likely getting enough sleep! Recent evidence has shown that whilst sleeping, the fluid in your brain expands as is thought to be more effective at clearing all the toxins away. Although we haven’t yet got solid human data that this would certainly help, there’s certainly no harm in making sure you always get a good night’s sleep!”
Keep reading to find out more information about research, care and cure. We at Harley Street Care are dedicated to not only providing the best care possible, but also finding the most up to date, and even pre-published research and information.